South African School - FAQs

Q.  Does a school require a license (permission to use a film)

A. Yes. Whenever a film is shown in a classroom, or elsewhere on the school premises for leisure/  entertainment purposes, by film clubs or for fundraising, a public performance license is required. Section 12 (1-4) of the Copyright Act, Law No.98 of 1978 offers an exemption, but makes it very clear only films shown at a school establishment for educational purposes qualify for the copyright exemption.

Q.  Who is responsible for obtaining permission in the form of a license?

A. The campus authorities or owners require a license, regardless of who facilitates the screening of the film.

Q.  We own the DVD/film, so do we still need a license to view or show it in public?

A. Yes, permission is required to use a film for entertainment purposes, by film clubs or for fundraising no matter the format. The location requires a license regardless of who owns the audiovisual work. While you may own the actual DVD/film, you are only granted the right to view it in your home, not to show it in public.

Q.  Can we charge admission?

A. No. The Umbrella License is a non-commercial license – you cannot charge admission nor advertise titles for screening to the general public.

Q.  How much does the Umbrella License cost?

A.   The MPLC Umbrella License fee is based on the school’s socio-economic status per pupil but very affordable.

Q.  Does the Umbrella License cover us for all films at our school?

A. The MPLC License for schools provides your school with the widest possible selection from over 800 of the world’s top studios, film and tv producers and covers all use for entertainment purposes or use by film clubs regardless of the amount of pupils or amount of times the films is viewed.

Q.  What type of film events are covered in our school?

A. All film screenings at schools for entertainment purposes or use by film clubs. 

Q.  What are the penalties?

A. Under the Copyright Act 1978 (as amended), damages can be claimed by the Copyright owner in respect of loss of income and/or potential loss of income, calculated retrospectively and/or criminal infringement penalties could result in a fine payable of up to R5 000  and/or 6 months imprisonment.

Q.  Who will prosecute?

A. Any person or competent authority can report and lay a charge against illegal film screenings for entertainment purposes. SAFACT – The Southern African Federation Against Copyright Theft  –  is representing most film producers and studios and leading the fight against piracy and illegal screening of films in South Africa, working closely with the Police, DTI inspectors and Customs and Excise, to investigate and prosecute the illegal use of films.


If you have any further questions relating to obtaining permission for the public viewing/screening of a film for entertainment purposes, by film clubs or fundraising, please don’t hesitate to contact the MPLC at (021) 465-6449 or email

For questions or further information on use of films for educational/teaching purposes, refer to or please contact