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FAQs about Copyrights

What are copyrights?

Copyrights are a form of intellectual property that gives the author, the owner or the distributor of original work (movies, literature, music, etc.) exclusive rights for a certain time period in relation to that work, including its publication, distribution, adaptation and use.


Frequently asked questions about copyrights

• What is a public performance?
• What are public performance movie licenses?
• Why do you need a license?
• Who needs a license?
• Are there exceptions for educational institutions?
• Are all movies covered by copyrights?
• Who regulates copyrights?
• Why are copyrights important?
• What is ACF’s role?
• Once licensed, how do I obtain films?
• What about online vendors like Netflix® and iTunes® ?
• Can I copy a movie in DVD format onto my computer?
• Am I allowed to do fundraisers with my license?
• Do I still need to get a license if I use my own copies and my presentations are free?
• Do you make pricing exceptions for small organizations?
• Do you offer special group licensing rates?
• How can I find out if a movie is covered by ACF?
• What kinds of licenses are available?

What is a public performance?

A public performance is any type of movie presentation that occurs outside of a private dwelling (your house, condo or apartment) or for audiences others than family and friends. Any type of presentation occurring outside of your home will be considered a public performance. However, if you show a movie in your backyard to one hundred people, that too would be considered a public performance.

Events occurring in private associations, private clubs, and private businesses are still all considered public performances.

What are public performance movie licenses?

Movie licenses are authorizations from a rights owner, representative or distributor to use a commercially available movie in a public performance context. ACF is an official authorized rights representative for numerous major studios and films and thus has the authority to issue licenses for thousands of commercially available movies.

Why do you need a license?

According to the Canadian Copyright Act, all public, private and commercial organizations wishing to present copyrighted commercially available movies in a public place must be properly licensed with a rights representative such as Audio Cine Films Inc. As the exclusive rights representative for numerous studios, producers and films, ACF is mandated to look after their performance rights. Please click here to consult the complete list of our partner studios.

This applies in all cases, even if films are personally owned, purchased in retail stores, from online vendors, shown freely or for non-profit reasons. Additional information on the specifics of the law can be obtained from The Canadian Copyright Board.

Who needs a license?

All organizations that present commercially available movies in a public performance environment are required to obtain a license from the appropriate rights representative. This applies even if presentations are free of charge, for non-profit reasons or if copies are obtained from personal collections, retail stores or online vendors.

To resume, all public performances of commercially available copyrighted movies must be licensed, notwithstanding the type, nature or vocation of your organization.


• Business Associations
• Campgrounds (public & private)
• Churches and Religious organizations
• Colleges, Universities and all types of Post-Secondary Institutions
• Convention and Conference Centers
• Clubs and Film Societies
• Corporations and Private Business
• Correctional Institutions
• Cultural and Community Centers & Associations
• Day and Summer Camps
• Dormitory Residences
• K-12 Elementary and Secondary Schools
• Kindergartens (commercial, private and home-based)
• Governmental Facilities
• Hotels, Motels and Resorts
• Lodges and Commercial Summer Cottages
• Military Bases
• Municipal Organizations
• Museums and Science Centers
• Provincial Parks
• Public Libraries
• Restaurants and Bars
• School Boards and Private School Associations
• Youth/Seniors Centers

For more information, do not hesitate to contact us.

Are there exceptions for educational institutions?

Yes, in 2012 the Canadian Parliament passed Bill C-11: The Copyright Modernization Act. It expanded copyright exemptions for provincially administered educational institutions (i.e. not private commercial institutions) allowing for the presentation of copyrighted commercially available movies for educational purposes.

Notwithstanding changes to copyright regulations, a public performance license is required by law for all educational institutions that present commercially available movies within a leisure environment. The public performance exceptions contained in C-11 are strictly educational in nature and do not apply to presentations occurring outside of a classroom curriculum related context.


• Do I need a license if I show movies during lunch or as part of kindergarten programs? YES
• Do I need a license if movies are free or just for a few students?YES
• Do I need a license if movies are personally owned or purchased from retail stores? YES
• Do I need a license for charity fundraiser events? YES
• Do movie events organized by parents associations require a license? YES
• Are the movies and studios listed here covered by other vendors? NO
• Do copyright laws allow me to show movies for leisure purposes without a license? NO

Are all movies covered by copyrights?

Yes, unless otherwise specified, the vast majority of commercially available movies are covered by the Canadian Copyright Act and a public performance license must be obtained.

Who regulates copyrights?

Copyrights in Canada are under the responsibility of the Federal Government and all aspects of the Law are handled by the Copyright Board of Canada.

Additional investigative, legal and piracy issues are handled by the Motion Picture Association - Canada (MPA-Canada).

Why are copyrights important?

Copyrights exist to protect the rights of the creative artists who write, direct, produce and star in the entertainment industry. To that end, it is important to encourage new technologies and innovative approaches that create greater consumer choice for how, when and where content can be accessed legally at a variety of price points consumers want. Copyrights in Canada are regulated by the Canadian Copyright Act

What is ACF’s role?

As a major non-theatrical (markets outside commercial theatres) Canadian public performance rights representative, we are mandated to protect the rights of the studios, producers and films we exclusively represent in Canada. We issue public performance licenses that allow individuals and organizations to present copyrighted commercially available movies without infringing upon the Canadian Copyright Act.

We offer public performance licenses that allow persons or organizations (commercial, not for profit and public) to present commercially available movies in public while respecting the Canadian Copyright Act.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions concerning specific aspects of copyrights and how they apply to your organization.

Once licensed, how do I obtain films?

Our licensing program allows organizations to obtain commercially available movies from any legal source available, such as video rental/retail stores and personal collections. Our streaming web site also offers easy access to commercially available movies we represent.

Pre-release titles are exclusively available from us and are shipped directly to you for your event. Booking requests must be sent by email or by using our quote request form, and confirmed by one of our representatives.

What about online vendors like Netflix® and iTunes®?

Accounts with online vendors such as Netflix® and iTunes® are meant for personal use only, in your home for your family and friends. Usage terms for both of these companies prohibit public performances. Misuse of accounts can result in cancellation, please check with your vendor.

Can I copy a movie in DVD format onto my computer?

No, movies are licensed in their original format and cannot be modified, edited or changed in any way whatsoever. Format shifting is strictly prohibited by the Canadian Copyright Act.

Am I allowed to do fundraisers with my license?

Fundraisers are only allowed if your agreement with ACF specifically mentions it.

Do I still need to get a license if I use my own copies and my presentations are free?

Yes, all public presentations must be licensed, even if you own the movie and you are not charging anything.

Do you make pricing exceptions for small organizations?

Yes, depending on the circumstances. Please fill out the quote request form.

Do you offer special group licensing rates?

Yes, special group pricing is available for almost any type of organization. Please fill out the quote request form.

How can I find out if a movie is covered by ACF?

The quickest way is to check our search engine or contact us. Please note that certain titles may have expired rights and may not appear on our web site, even if they are identified as belonging to one of the studios we represent.

What kind of licenses are available?

Annual Public Performance Site Licenses

Annual public performance licenses from ACF allow for the public showing of films produced by the studios and producers we exclusively represent. Rates vary according to the type of organization and the circumstances of your events. Once licensed, you can present movies from the studios and producers we represent.

Special rates and conditions are available for small organizations.
Please click here for additional information on annual licenses.

Short Term or Single Presentation Licenses

Ideal for special events, short-term licenses are for single presentations at a specific date. Costs start at $250.00 for regular movies and $400.00 for pre-releases ($35 + shipping, handling and taxes) and vary according to the scope of your event.

Please submit the following quote request form for a complete quote.

Special licenses can be issued for different lengths of time (day, week, month, etc.) or benefit from volume discounts.

For more information, do not hesitate to contact us

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