Most passengers have come to expect films available to play on lengthy journies, but limousine operators are said to be unclear about the legalities of showing copyrighted material.
Aiming to clear up the confusion for limo operators is MPLC, an independent copyright licensing service. “Video and DVDs have become such a part of our daily entertainment, we all take them for granted.” says MPLC’s managing director, Peter Kuyper Jr.
“But a lot of limousine operators don’t realise they are actually breaking the law when they allow passengers or drivers to show home entertainment videos or DVDs without the proper copyright licence.” Home video’s and DVDs are intended for private, domestic use only. When shown on board a limousine, or anywhere outside of one’s home, this qualifies as a “public performance” under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (section 19). Showings are illegal unless correctly licensed.
It is the limousine companies’ responsibility to ensure they have full compliance, even when vehicles are contracted to the driver. The Copyright Act holds a Secondary Infringer liable if he or she “supplies the apparatus and knew or had reason to believe that the apparatus was likely to be used as to infringe copyright.” FACT. (Federation Against Copyright Theft) carry out regular investigations into copyright infringement and there’s a maximum penalty of a £5,000 fine and/or six months imprisonment (Copyright Act Section 107).
Put simply, if your vehicles have video equipment for the passengers or drivers to show home entertainment films — you need a licence. Until a few years ago, the only way to legally show a film aboard a vehicle was to hire a specific film title with the copyright attached. While this method may suit some businesses like Hotels and Airlines, the film industry realised there needed to be a simpler, more cost effective option for smaller companies like limousine operators.
What MPLC is calling the Umbrella Licence, it represents major Hollywood studios and independent producers including Universal, Dreamworks, Touchstone, Paramount 20th Century Fox and Walt Disney Pictures, giving access to thousands of video and DVD titles. It allows unlimited use of your own, or your passengers’ legally purchased or rented videos/DVDs. Operators pay a low annual fee which is said to be around £75.