By Adrienne Esposito, Staff Writer
If you’re the leader of a club or an organization on campus, you might already know how difficult it is to host a movie event. A company by the name of Swank Motion Pictures owns the licensing rights to just about every movie you’ve ever seen. If you have any desire to share the joy, sadness, excitement or nostalgia that any of said films have brought to you, you might have to fork over some cash first.
That’s right. The rights to everything from Breakfast at Tiffany’s to Avengers to your all time favorite childhood movie, The Aristocats (mine too), belong to Swank. According to the company’s website, anytime you wish to exhibit a film outside of your home, you’re required to purchase a license.
I should also note that the newer the movie is, the greater the licensing fee you have to pay. Rumor has it, CAB held a movie event last year featuring the new Pixar film, “Coco,” and paid a whopping $600 for a single showing.
The company is kind enough to clarify through their FAQ page that even if you’re just wishing to host an informal event at a facility other than your home with some friends, you’re still required to obtain a license – yes, EVEN if you only have one friend.
Additionally, Swank makes a point to say that they don’t care if you own the VHS tape of “Beauty and the Beast,” you still owe them money if you’re not watching it from the comfort of your own couch.
If you get caught hosting an event outside of your home, formal or informal, without a license, you might be dinged with a hefty fine up to $250,000 or face up to five years of prison time. If this isn’t enough to convince you to pay them $600, the company also threatens embarrassing publicity (yikes).
Though I do believe copyright laws are important for the sake of all those involved in the creative industry, I think this is a bit overkill. A more reasonable model, in my opinion, is the music industry. Though artists in this field also rely on individuals to purchase their products legally, they don’t restrict you to only play the music you purchased within the confines of your own home.
Perhaps Swank and those in charge of movie copyright laws will loosen their grips in the future and move toward the music industry model. Until then, unless you have money burning a hole in your pocket to hand over to Swank, have an interest in paying a fine comparable to the price of a nice house in Wichita, or hope to someday meet Prison Mike, I recommend that you stay in your PJ’s to watch “Sleepless in Seattle” with your dog at home. Dogs talk less during movies anyway.