Showing Movies on University Campuses

motion picture
Image Credit: © Kts |

Many departments and student organizations on campuses in Nigeria organize public exhibitions of films relying on the fair use exception in the Second Schedule of the Copyright Act. The rationale is that the movie is being screened for academic purposes.

However, organizing events involving copyrighted material can put the university and/or the program planner at risk for an infringement action.

Below are some frequently asked questions we receive at NLIPW:

1. Should I be concerned with copyright law if I want to schedule a public film or video event on my university campus?

The answer is yes. The Copyright Act in Nigeria governs how copyrighted materials, such as films, may be used. Under the Act, the exclusive right to publicly display a work vests in the copyright owner. Therefore, you must have the proper copyright authorization in order to publicly exhibit a film or host a video event.

2.  Can I show a video from my Netflix account while in a campus meeting room or classroom space?

Generally, the answer is no. Videos from Netflix and similar rental sites are intended for use at home only and if videos from Netflix are shown publicly, the organizers must first obtain a public performance license from the copyright owner.

There are exceptions one of which is when the video or film is shown in a classroom or similar place devoted to teaching with the lecturer or professor present and is part of the curriculum. In that case, the lecturer does not need to seek licensing provided he or she has a lawful copy of the film and it is purely for academic purposes.

3.  Is it possible for me to show the entire film if it serves an educational or academic purpose?

Generally, you will need permission or a license to screen a film or a movie in its entirety regardless of whether the film serves an educational or academic purpose.

As stated above, there are exceptions one of which is if the movie is being shown by a lecturer or professor in a classroom or similar place devoted to teaching, and is part of the academic curriculum. In such cases, permission or a license will not be necessary.

4.   How do I go about obtaining a license to show films on my campus?

You may obtain a license to publicly show the film or video from a variety of sources including the copyright owner (generally listed in the credits of the film); reviewing the film’s website for basic contact information; and in certain cases, from authorized distribution companies.

This article is intended to provide general information about the subject matter. Professional legal advice should be sought about specific circumstances.

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About Ufuoma Akpotaire 288 Articles
Ufuoma is a Senior Editor and Director of Regulatory Policy at NLIPW. She assists clients in the protection of copyrights, trademarks and patents. She counsels clients regarding validity and infringement matters and has experience acting against the infringement of IP and addressing counterfeit issues. She holds a Masters degree (LL.M.) from Columbia Law School, New York and a law degree from the University of Nigeria (LL.B. Honors). She is admitted to practice law in Nigeria and in the State of New York. Ufuoma cut her teeth in the intellectual property practice groups of some of the largest law firms in Nigeria and has years of experience working with major non-profit organizations in New York. Email:

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