Showing Movies at Camp? Know the Licensing Laws

Movie Theater

Now more than ever, movies are an easy, affordable way to provide entertainment to campers of all ages. Whether it’s an outdoor movie night under the stars; a dive-in film on the beach, or simply a rainy afternoon, camp screenings of movies are more popular than ever before.

As the camp season approaches, please be reminded that a public performance license is required when motion pictures and other audiovisual programs are shown at your camp. Motion Picture Licensing Corporation (MPLC) is an independent copyright licensing agency authorized by rightsholders to issue the Umbrella License®—the license your camp needs to ensure copyright compliance. Best of all, American Camp Association (ACA) members pay a discounted rate. If you are already an MPLC license holder, you need not reapply. Your license is automatically renewed at your guaranteed low rate.

Download the Umbrella License Application to receive your ACA member discount and legally show movies at camp!

According to the US Copyright Act, Title 17 of the United States Code, copyrighted motion pictures and other audiovisual programs that are available for rental or purchase in any legal format, such as DVDs or other digital formats, whether streamed or downloaded, are intended for personal, private use. Exhibitions outside of your private residence require a public performance license. This legal requirement applies equally to for-profit and nonprofit facilities. Civil penalties for unauthorized exhibitions start at $750 for each inadvertent infringement and go as high as $150,000 for each egregious violation. 

As the Umbrella License is facility based, your camp is protected against copyright infringement whether guests or staff press play. More importantly, with the assurance of comprehensive copyright compliance, your camp gains legal access to content from over 1,000 motion picture studios and producers ranging from Walt Disney and Warner Bros. to independent producers. 

If you currently show movies or plan to this season, please be sure to complete the Umbrella License Application and return it to MPLC. Upon receipt, your Certificate of License will be sent via U.S. Mail and you can immediately begin showing movies!

If you have questions, please contact either the American Camp Association at 765-342-8456, or the MPLC at 800-462-8855 or