Screening Films Outside the Classroom

Q: Do I need a special permission or license to screen a film outside the classroom?
A: The Copyright Act includes the right for educational institutions to play films on University premises, provided:

  • the screening is for educational or training purposes,
  • the screening is not-for-profit,
  • the screening is before an audience consisting primarily of students and educators, and
  • the work is not an infringing copy or the person responsible for the performance has no reasonable grounds to believe it is an infringing copy.

If any of these conditions are not met, you will need to obtain public performance rights for your screening. For information on obtaining public performance rights, contact

Q: What makes a screening "educational"?
A: The Copyright Act does not define what makes a film screening educational. For assistance in assessing whether the screening you are organizing qualifies under this exemption, please contact the Copyright Support Team.

Q: What if the film is in the public domain?
A: In Canada, a film enters the public domain 50 years after the death of the director. If this is the case for the film you are showing, and you are showing a film print, then the film is likely in the public domain and can be screened without requiring any special dispensation. However, if you are showing a VHS or DVD of this film, you will likely find that it displays a copyright date for when that version was released. For such films, you must abide by the conditions listed above, or secure public performance rights.