How to hold a Home and School Movie Night

Many local Home and School associations hold "movie nights." This can be an excellent way of providing an inexpensive night out for your school families. 

Changes to the Copyright Act passed in 2013, however, have significant implications for Home and Schools, and what was permitted in the past under a province-wide educational license with film distributors is no longer allowed.

To legally show a movie in public – which includes showing it to students in the school as part of a “movie night” – requires a "public performance license" be obtained. In the past, the PEI Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, through the Provincial Library Service, has purchased province-wide “public performance site location license agreements." With changes to the Copyright Act that define educational use as "fair use," however, these licenses are no longer required and have not been renewed.

To show a film in school in a way that complies with the provisions of the Copyright Act the following five conditions must be met:

  1. The showing must take place on the "premises" of an educational institution.
  2. The showing must be for an audience consisting primarily of students, instructors or persons directly responsible for setting a curriculum.
  3. The showing must be for educational or training purposes.
  4. The showing must not be for profit.
  5. The copy shown must not be infringing or the person responsible for the performance has no reasonable grounds to believe that it is an infringing copy.

A film shown after school hours to an audience of students and parents that's shown primarily for entertainment and not instruction clearly doesn't meet these conditions, which means that Home and School associations cannot, in general, hold a "movie" night without taking an additional step of obtaining a "public performance license" of their own.

You can do this in a number of ways:

  1. You can contact Audio Ciné, Criterion Pictures or another distributor to purchase a license. You can do this on a film-by-film basis, or you can purchase an annual license. Audio Ciné, for example, offers an annual license for 40 cents per student per year, with a $150 minimum, whereas Criterion Pictures offers an annual license for 80 cents per student per year.
  2. You can contact the Provincial Library Service, which has films available that have already had public performance rights purchased for them.
  3. You can contact the education resource centre of the English Language School board (Dawn MacIsaac, 902-368-4086), which has in its collection items with public performance rights already purchased.

If you do opt to purchase a license from a distbutor, you will generally be allowed to charge admission, which was something that was not allowed under the provincial site licenses previously in place.

The teacher-librarian in your school is your first contact for questions about licensing. You can also contact Robin Phillips, Education and Early Childhood Development at (902) 438-4837 or