Many hotels now offer a DVD library of films for guests to watch in the privacy of their room, but if you provide this service you must comply with copyright law. Distribution specialist Filmbank explains the implications for hoteliers.
Jim and Diane Stewart run a 12-bedroom hotel in the Cotswolds. It is contemporary in style and offers modern amenities such as wireless internet access and small flat-screen televisions with built-in DVD players. It has a mix of leisure and business guests. Jim and Diane have decided to provide an additional service to their guests - they are supplying a DVD library of films for their guests to watch in the privacy of their rooms. Do they need a copyright licence?
All film screenings require a copyright licence that is relevant to how the film will be shown - for example, in a cinema, at home, or in a hotel or guesthouse.
Larger hotels have been offering movies to guests for years, through pay TV systems installed by technology companies. Many smaller establishments - independent hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs - are increasingly providing a DVD library of films for their guests to watch in their rooms. This service is usually complimentary; however, some hoteliers may not realise that they need to obtain a copyright licence before they offer such a service.
Guests that use their own DVDs and players are not affected as they have already bought the right to view the content.
A purchase by a hotelier of a DVD for their own personal use is a very different form of exploitation to the repeated use of that DVD by an undetermined number of guests. The guests amount to a new audience not anticipated by the rights holder when the DVD was sold, and for which the rights holder is entitled to a separate and fair remuneration.
The provision of a DVD library is perceived as a positive, value added service to attract customers, which offers the hotel a commercial advantage.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Hoteliers can comply with copyright law by contacting the companies that hold the copyright for the films.
Alternatively, to make it easier for independent hoteliers to offer a DVD service to guests, Filmbank - which represents a large number of Hollywood studios and independent producers - has launched DVD Concierge Licence, to allow UK hotel properties to provide DVDs without contravening copyright law.
This licence is for hoteliers and B&B owners who wish to offer guests a selection of DVDs while they are staying in the property. Licence holders will pay an annual fee of £36+VAT per room, per year, which enables them to offer their guests unlimited movies from the participating studios during their stay.
A licence for seasonal properties is also available, established in consultation with VisitEngland. This offers the same cover for properties that are open for eight months of the year or less, and costs £32+VAT per room, per year.
For further information, see Filmbank's website, which runs trailers and provides news on the latest DVD releases to help proprietors manage their DVD service effectively.