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Student Organizations

Film and Video Copyright

Copyright Law

The Federal Copyright Act (Title 17 of the United States Code) governs how copyrighted materials, such as movies, may be used. Any public showing of any format (VHS, DVD) requires the permission of the rights holder unless it meets the strict requirements of the "face to face teaching exemption."

The "home use" videos and DVDs obtained from Netflix, retailers, and the Multimedia Center are not intended to be used for public consumption. If you are planning a film program on campus you should arrange for public performance rights, even if you are not charging an admission fee.


If you have questions about copyright laws or are interested in arranging for performance rights, contact the Multimedia Center (MMC) staff. MMC is located on the ground floor of Rush Rhees Library and staff can be reached at (585) 275-3009 or Please consult your group's advisor to ensure compliance when planning a film program on campus.

Your Options

In order to show a film on campus legally, you must do one of the following:

  • Arrange with University of Rochester Cinema Group to show the film as part of their series so that the copyrights and public performance licenses are acquired legally.
  • Contact MMC and pay the appropriate fee to acquire the rights to show the film of your choice (generally, this fee ranges from $300 to $500, depending on the film). MMC may also be willing to purchase the film outright if the film has public performance rights; MMC would then add this film to its library collection for others to use.
  • Contact MMC and request a list of "public domain" films, which do not require a license.
  • Create an educational film program and screen the film in the Gleason Theater. Email for a reservation and more information. You may only use this option when showing an educational film.
  • Arrange with a professor to show a film as part of the curriculum of a specific course. However, only those registered members of that particular class will be allowed to view the film and you will not be able to advertise this to the general campus community.
  • Contact the Dryden Theatre at the George Eastman Museum or the Little Theatre to request a private showing of a film. There is a fee for this service.

Gleason Theater

The Gleason Theater, located in the Gleason Library in Rush Rhees Library, seats up to 30 and was established as a space where student groups can conduct film and visual-presentation based programs. Use of the theater is limited to the University of Rochester community only. Reservation requests for events that are open to the public will not be honored.

Reserving the Gleason Theater

Send your requests to You must include the following with your request:

  • Your name
  • The name of the hall or organization sponsoring this event
  • The date and time requested (we need to know the start and end times for your event)

You will be notified by email if your reservation is accepted.

Reservations are limited to film and visual-presentation based programs with an educational component, such as a presentation or discussion of the film being screened.

To maximize the availability of the theater to the student community, reservations are limited to one reservation a month per organization or individual. No block reservations. You can only book one event at a time.

Make your reservation requests well in advance. Requests are processed in the order they are received. The reservation inbox is checked once a day on weekdays. It is not checked on weekends.

The Gleason Theater is not a classroom. If you are an instructor who is showing a film in class, contact Classroom Technology Services to arrange the necessary equipment.

The Gleason Theater is self-serve. We suggest that you stop by before your event to familiarize yourself with the equipment.