This is the legal bit...


When members use Suffolk Cinema Network's equipment, they do need to comply with all the relevant legal requirements. In accepting the terms and conditions for borrowing equipment, members specifically indemnify the Network and its executive committee against any liability resulting from any breach of the law on the part of your organisation.

These notes are general guidance only, and each member group should satisfy itself that its events comply with these and other aspects of the law. The Network accepts no responsibility for any errors or omissions, and you are advised to seek professional legal advice relevant to your own specific circumstances.

Public Liability

Suffolk Cinema Network members borrowing equipment must have public liability insurance cover of 5 million pounds, and have undertaken their own risk assessment for the events they promote. Proof of this insurance cover must be sent to the secretary before you borrow any equipment. Unfortunately you can't be allowed to take equipment away from the store unless you have provided this proof.

When considering the risks relevant to your own events, please see the 'safety briefing' page on the members area of this website. You can also download the Network committee's risk assessment from the document library; it shows how the committee has thought about the general hazards that might arise when members borrow equipment.


To screen films you will need a Film Licence, usually booked through a distributor such as Filmbankmedia:

Depending on your aims and whether you are looking to make a profit, you may also need a Premises Licence or a Temporary Event Licence to cover the venue.  Contact the Licensing Department of your Local District Council for further information and advice. For groups needing a Premises Licence, cinema / film screening must be included as one of the licensed activities.


Film Licence/ Screening Licence / Copyright to screen films

- It's all the same thing! The general rule of thumb is that you can't simply screen in public DVDs that you have bought or rented, even if you aren't charging a ticket price or if you're donating your ticket sales to charity. In most cases, you need to obtain a licence from copyright holders or their distributors (such as Filmbankmedia, the British Film Institute and Moviola). What you're paying for when these distributors charge you a fee, is a licence to screen the film in public.

When using Suffolk Cinema Network's equipment, you must either screen material under licence from an authorised distributor such as Filmbankmedia or if you want to screen work by a local independent film-maker you must obtain the express consent of relevant copyright holders - usually the film-maker.

The only exception to this is if you are operating under the terms of an Umbrella Licence (from the Motion Picture Licensing Company - see below)

You may also need a music licence from the Performing Rights Society (or PRS, which pays royalties to the composers of music on film soundtracks). It is your venue that needs the licence (rather than your group or the event you're running) and for community buildings with an annual income under £10,000 the cost for the licence is around £50 for the year. You may find your village hall or community venue already has the PRS licence in place (they'll need it if they play commercial music at all, such as having the radio playing.) Click here to find out more: Performing Rights Society 

Motion Picture Licensing Company (MPLC)

This is a much cheaper option if you aren't going to charge for tickets to see the film. You can get  the MPLC Umbrella Licence® from the Motion Picture Licensing Company (MPLC).

If you hold this licence, you can screen most films from their studios using any legal copy of the film (such as DVDs you have at home, or have rented from a local shop or library). There is no reporting or title-by-title admin involved. Better still, you can obtain this annual licence for a much smaller cost that paying the single title film licence each time you have a screening.

The licence gives unlimited use of thousands of DVDs and downloads throughout the year. It represents nine hundred Hollywood, Bollywood and independent film studios together with TV producers including major studios such as Walt Disney, Buena Vista, Dreamworks, Touchstone, Twentieth Century Fox, Hollywood Pictures, MGM, United Artists, Miramax, Paramount , Pixar and Universal. It also represents independent producers including Lionsgate, HIT Entertainment, Ealing Studios, Metrodome, Eros International and Sony Pictures Classics as well as the major TV producers.

Key restrictions
1. No commercial advertisement may be made of the film title, but you may advertise through notice boards, newsletters, email circulation etc
2. No direct income may be made to view the film but you may -  1) Charge a ticket price that includes  food, drink, raffle etc or 2) Have no entry fee, but raise funds through the sale of food, drink, raffle ticket etc at each film event.
3. The licence is only applicable to the named organisation and location.
4. The films shown must be a legal copy of that film.

Key benefits
1. Allows the use of legally rented or purchased DVD copies- either your own library or those purchased/rented.
2. Unlimited showings all year round.
3. No reporting of title use or audience figures.
4. Low administration as the licence agreement renews automatically.


Bear in mind that this licence is only available if you meet the criteria set out above.

To check whether your screenings might be eligible for this licence, contact MPLC's licensing team on (0)1323 649647 or check out

Child Protection

All the films you rent from commercial distributors will have been classified by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC). You must observe any age restrictions imposed by BBFC. You should clearly indicate BBFC classifications in your publicity material and at the venue. For more information about classification, see the BBFC website (link here)

With public screenings of material not classified by BBFC (such as, say, a short film by a local youth group) it's a bit more problematic. Strictly speaking, any such material should be classified by your district or borough council before screening to a public audience. (Members of a private club, or pupils at a school, etc, would not count as a 'public' audience.) If you are in any doubt get in touch with us for guidance.

You do need to be aware of child protection issues if you plan to run events where children may be left unaccompanied. To avoid any issues, we usually advise you to insist that children are always accompanied by an adult.

If you want to screen films to children that are unaccompanied, do  make sure that you have enough responsible adult helpers on hand (a ratio of 1:8 is recommended for children under eight, 1:16 for children over eight), that all unaccompanied children are signed in and out by their parent or carer, and that you take an emergency contact number and details of any specific medical conditions that you might need to know about (such as food allergies).

If you regularly run screenings for unaccompanied children or vulnerable adults,  just make sure you're aware of best practice advice on the safe running of these events. Your local council might be able to help or you can contact the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), who offer a range of information, advice, training and resources for organisations and individuals who work with children and young people, and vulnerable adults.

Disabled Access

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 came into full force in 2004, so hopefully the venue you plan to use for your film screenings will already be physically accessible to everyone, and modifications such as fitting an induction loop system will have been introduced.

It is worth remembering that DVDs have one major advantage over traditional film: many DVDs come supplied with sub-titles for the hearing impaired. These can easily be switched on if required. We recommend that you adopt a policy of using this feature (when available) if a hearing-impaired audience member requests it, and making sure that potential audience members know that sub-titles will be available on request.

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Our Technical Partner
Technical Assistance - Sales - Installation - Cinema - Audio - A.V - Induction Loop
Tel: 01953 860074 / 07887 620864
Email: [email protected]