Movie Guidelines

According to the adopted standards of Fresno Pacific University: “FPU is a Christ-based educational community in which the faculty and most students share a commitment to Christ and the life of Christian discipleship. The university believes that the total welfare of people is of paramount concern. It seeks to respect the dignity, worth and individuality of each person within the university community. Yet, it recognizes that in order to maintain community, occasionally it becomes necessary to subordinate individuality for the sake of community.”

Student Handbook, Standards, Christian Life and Behavioral Standards, Web address:

In response to this principle a movie policy is needed. While individual consciences may have different sensitivities to issues in movies, as a community we must be cognizant of the potential effects of movies on other students.

There is a recognition that some R-rated movies have educational value and serve a significant role in illustrating and/or illuminating a concept or theory. There is also a recognition that the content of many PG and PG-13 movies are inconsistent with Christian standards. Therefore, students are encouraged to reflect Christ in viewing choices. Students should be especially aware that others within the community may be struggling with issues being featured in movies that are shown.

In keeping with the University’s Christian Life and Behavioral Standards, movies of all ratings that are shown in public areas should be consistent with university standards and sensitive to the consciences of all students. Specifically, R-rated movies may not be shown in public areas (such as Strasbourg Basement Lounge), but may be shown in living areas when the members of that area agree that the R-rated movie is acceptable or of educational value. An X-rated movie may not be shown anywhere on campus.

Showing Movies on Campus

Whenever buying, renting, or borrowing a DVD or videotape of a movie (or any other audiovisual work) made by someone else, one is likely to think that they can use it as they choose. Copyright law controls the ability to use and display the movie. Legally, any showing of this movie is regarded as a “performance” of a dramatic work, whether it’s being shown to a small group of friends or to a large group in a campus classroom. There are several issues which must be addressed in order to comply with federal copyright law.

1. Is this movie showing a “private” or “public” performance?

Private: Showing the movie to family members or a small group of friends is regarded as a private performance. A private performance, such as showing a video to a small group in a residence hall room or a living community common space, is permissible and does not violate the rights of the copyright owner. Showings presented in community living spaces (i.e. lounges, movie rooms, etc.) may include only the members of a particular living community and must not be publicized to the community in general.

Public: A performance is public if the movie is being shown to people other than family members or a small group of friends, or if it is being shown in a place that is open to people other than family members or a small group of friends. Showing a movie in a living community common space or campus classroom is a public performance if it is open to more than a small group of friends. Such a showing may infringe on the copyright owner’s rights unless Public Performance Rights (PPR) have been purchased from the copyright owner, or there is some applicable exception to the PPR requirement.

Anyone needing to secure public performance rights should contact the Student Life office for assistance.

2. Is there an exception that allows showing the movie without PPR?

A showing that fits the definition of a public performance, may be shown without PPR if all of the following conditions are met.

Option A. The movie will be shown:

  1. by an instructor (faculty of record) in the course of face-to-face teaching activities
  2. in a classroom or similar place devoted to instruction.
  3. for instructional purposes (not for recreation, entertainment, or general cultural value) with the instructor personally present. Typically, the movie must directly and overtly relate to a course’s curricular goals as described in the course syllabus.
  4. from a legal copy. The copy of the movie being shown must have been lawfully made. A legal copy purchased or rented from a store or distributor or borrowed from a library may be used. A movie taped or recorded from television or copied without permission may not be used.
  5. with no admission fee may being charged (unless public performance rights have been secured).
  6. with no publicity to the general campus (unless public performance rights have been secured).

Option B. Some movies may fall into the category of “public domain.” Generally, this means that no person or organization has any proprietary interest such as a copyright or that any copyright to the movie has expired. Movies which are quite old may still be protected by copyright. It’s often difficult to determine whether a film is in the public domain, but helpful information is found at:

Final Note

Copyright law does not permit a public performance of a movie unless one of the exceptions above applies (either Option A. or Option B.) or public performance rights are obtained. There is no general “educational,” “nonprofit,” “documentary,” or “no admission fee” exception. Subsequently most movie showings outside the context of face-to-face classroom teaching will require having a PPR. If you have questions or concerns, please contact the Student Life office.