By Eileen Korte

korte copyrightThrough increased educational efforts within the dental community, orthodontists are learning that a public performance license is required in order to show movies and other copyrighted audiovisual works within their practices. A public performance license is still necessary even if a practice is not open to the general public, an admission fee is not charged to view the movie, and/or the title of the movie is not publicly advertised. The same holds true for other health care facilities, including blood collection centers, dialysis centers, health clinics, and psychiatric hospitals.

While it has become easier for orthodontists to recognize the need for copyright compliance when popping a Disney DVD into a DVD player, the same level of compliance is required when that same Disney content is streamed from online services like Netflix or downloaded from the iTunes store. While some digital signage systems now offer the ability to stream movies, they have done so without providing the necessary license. In all cases, it is important to protect your practice from the fines associated with copyright infringement, and remember that regardless of the medium, the licensing requirement remains the same.

Orthodontists have used visual media in creative ways. A particular favorite is Finding Nemo, as it features a memorable scene set in a dentist’s office. Shorter programs available through streaming services like Hulu can appeal to adults. Comedies like 30 Rock have set episodes in a dental office and used the after-effects of anesthesia to great comedic effect. These are just two examples of how orthodontists and dentists are using audiovisual works to set clients at ease. With thousands of titles available for programming, orthodontists are free to explore the creative possibilities that licensing brings.

Regardless of how your practice chooses to use audiovisual works, copyright compliance is key. Fines for noncompliance begin at $750 for each inadvertent infringement. Perhaps more important than the monetary fine is the professional damage such a violation can cause. As a result, it is important to ensure that office staff is just as mindful of copyright compliance as practice owners.

Before writing off movies and other programs as too expensive, it is important to keep in mind that an annual blanket license is only a few hundred dollars a year. Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has negotiated a reduced license fee on the MPLC Umbrella License® for its members. While the American Association of Orthodontists has not yet reached a similar agreement, members are encouraged to contact the association and express their interest in such a program. OP

Eileen Korte is the licensing manager for the United States office of the Motion Picture Licensing Corporation (MPLC). The MPLC is a world leader in motion picture copyright compliance, supporting legal access across five continents and more than 20 countries. It provides the Umbrella License® to more than 250,000 facilities in the United States and over 450,000 worldwide. To learn more about the MPLC and the copyright compliance solution provided by the annual Umbrella License, visit