Would I be a pirate?

  Jim Thing 20:53 24 Jul 2009

I live in a small apartment complex which is reserved for retired people. Every Saturday evening during the winter months, our Entertainments Committee puts on a Movie Evening, and I have been asked whether I could supply some of the movies by recording broadcast films onto DVDs which would then be shown on the TV in our communal lounge. In addition to the movie itself, the audience gets tea and biscuits at half-time, for which a nominal charge is made in aid of the Committee's funds.

The whole thing is a strictly non-profit, very-low-budget enterprise, carried out purely to provide an evening's entertainment for a handful of elderly people, with whom it is extremely popular. However, I am concerned that, if I were to agree to do this, I may actually be risking prosecution for breaking the copyright laws. On the other hand I would imagine that anyone seeking to enforce the law might well think twice before attracting the adverse publicity that would probably result (although I appreciate, of course, that the likelihood that I may get away with it is no excuse for breaking the law).

Would anyone care to comment?

  Bingalau 21:11 24 Jul 2009

Well you have a got a suitable name for a pirate Oh, Ahh!

I would just go ahead if I were you, there doesn't seem a lot of law breaking with your scheme. Who's going to blow you out of the water?

  interzone55 21:26 24 Jul 2009

You are allowed to record broadcast TV for personal time shifting purposes, you are not allowed to show it to paying audiences.

I'm sure someone will be able to give you all the legal guff, but a perfect example of broadcast TV rules is pubs showing the football.

If a pub wants to have a TV in the bar they have to have a different licence, and pay a fee to Sky for the commercial sports channel rights, you can tell if a pub has this by the beer glass in the bottom right corner...

  Woolwell 22:07 24 Jul 2009

You will fall foul of the copyright law. click here and click here
You will need a licence and the Entertainments Committee should already have one for their movie evening.

  WhiteTruckMan 22:12 24 Jul 2009

it might help to abolish the 'nominal charge' and instead put up a notice for entirely volentary contributions.


  Woolwell 22:16 24 Jul 2009

The nominal charge may mean that the committee requires a licence under the Licensing Act 2003 as movies are regulated entertainment. The council could even be interested in the tea and biscuits and hygiene. A whole load of red tape.

  Jim Thing 22:55 24 Jul 2009

Thanks for the responses. I'm beginning to think that it's probably not worth the hassle.

Your links raise an interesting question: My apartment is my home. The lounge, where the movies will be shown, is freely accessible to all apartment-owners but not to outsiders, other than by invitation. In law might the lounge be considered part of each resident's home?

I'll leave the box unticked for a while in case anything else turns up.

Thanks again. Have a nice weekend.

  spuds 23:02 24 Jul 2009

Perhaps a visit to your local Age Concern, CAB, video hire shop or council may provide the answer. Putting on entertainment and supplying food, especially if a charge is made, can lead to all sorts of complications.

Regarding the dvd downloading and showing, perhaps it might be worth considering making a purchase from eBay, as there are many good films and titles available from 50p upwards, and that usually includes postage at present. The dvd could then be used on other occasions or even sold, so as to provide further entertainment.

Even your local video shop (if you have one) might even consider a free or subsidised rental arrangement. The video shop may even have knowledge regarding licence agreements (if required).

  Woolwell 23:25 24 Jul 2009

Further to the my earlier post you should not have a problem with the Licensing Act is it is a private event and it is not intended to make a profit. You will run into trouble if you open it to anyone but I doubt if you ever intend to.

  Jim Thing 23:28 24 Jul 2009

Thanks for your input. No doubt we'll need a catering-technology degree and public liability insurance in order to offer our neighbours a cup of tea and a plate of biscuits. Nothing surprises me any more.

Re your suggestion about buying DVDs via eBay: It's a good idea as far as protecting the funds are concerned, but I don't think it would solve the copyright problem; if I'm reading Woolwell's links correctly the possible breach of copyright law lies in the showing of the movies, not in how they're obtained.

  Forum Editor 23:32 24 Jul 2009

on the use of recordings of public broadcasts are pretty strict. There are exceptions, but in the main you may only use a recording of a TV broadcast - whether it's a film or a transmitted programme - for your own, private entertainment.

One of the exceptions is the use of recordings for showing to schoolchildren. This is a permitted use, provided the recording is shown to school pupils for educational purposes in an educational establishment.

I'm afraid your suggested use does not qualify as an exception under the copyright act, and you would therefore be acting illegally in a technical sense. The fact that you would be extremely unlikely to attract the attention of the film-makers' copyright lawyers in the context of a group of retired people is something that you and your conscience must debate; my advice must be that you should not proceed.

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