Disney Forces Elementary School To Pay Licensing Fee After Screening The Lion King

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You know those warnings you see at the start of DVDs and Blu-rays warning you that the movie is for home use only? Well, it turns out that Disney takes them very seriously.

CNN is reporting that Emerson Elementary School in Berkley, California recently screened the 2019 remake of The Lion King as part of a “parent’s night out ” fundraising event, and Disney wants to get paid. Two months after the event, the school received an email from Movie Licensing USA saying that they’d illegally screened the film and owed $250.

Here’s how it read:

“Any time a movie is shown outside of the home, legal permission is needed to show it, as it is considered a Public Performance. Any time movies are shown without the proper license, copyright law is violated and the entity showing the movie can be fined by the studios. If a movie is shown for any entertainment reason — even in the classroom, it is required by law that the school obtains a Public Performance license.”

PTA president David Rose explained:

“One of the dads bought the movie at Best Buy. He owned it. We literally had no idea we were breaking any rules.”

Reaction to their demand has obviously come down on the side of the school, especially considering that $250 of the $800 they fundraised has been gobbled up by the studio. Okay sure, they did unambiguously break the law by screening the movie, but surely this is something that can be dealt with by way of a warning rather Disney bringing their legal might to bear on a small elementary school? Even if Disney and Movie Licensing USA have to pursue the fine to protect their copyright, Disney should at least make a donation to the school in order to protect their image.

Berkeley City Council member Lori Droste pointed to the massive tax breaks that the Mouse House gets for its parks as well, saying:

“It’s just so appalling that an incredibly wealthy corporation … is having its licensing agents chase after a PTA having to raise insane amounts of money just to pay teachers, cover financial scholarships and manage school programs. We would be enthusiastic about paying the license fee if Disney was willing to have their properties reassessed and pay some additional property taxes.”

Fair enough. The school should probably also get to the bottom of which snitch reported them to Movie Licensing USA in the first place. I guess this truly is the year of the rat.

Source: CNN

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