Q: Who is the MPLC?
A: We are the world’s largest provider of non-theatrical licensing services for film and television producers, presently representing more than 1,300 of them from around the world, including the major Hollywood studios.
Q: We’ve never heard of you before. Is it a new organization?
A: The MPLC launched operations in the United States in 1986 and now has offices and staff in more than 30 major markets around the world, including Hong Kong. We began here in 2018 and are now a registered Copyright Licensing Body operating under the supervision and approval of the Intellectual Property Department. In fact we are the only registered Copyright Licensing Body acting on behalf of film and television producers.
Q: Are you a government department?
A: We’re not part of the government, but we operate under their authority and supervision. We follow all the transparency and fairness requirements imposed by the Copyright Ordinance and the Intellectual Property Department (IPD) as a condition for maintaining our registration as a Copyright Licensing Body. Please contact the IPD directly if you have any further questions regarding our bona fides.
Q: What do you do, exactly?
A: We operate licensing schemes on behalf of our clients allowing their films and television programmes to be legally viewed outside of peoples’ homes, such as in a church, or a school, or on a bus, or in an office, or a retail shop, etc.
Q: What does that mean?
A: Copyright laws around the world give certain protections to copyright owners in the form of exclusive rights, including the right to perform their works publicly. Films and television programmes sold or rented to consumers on DVDs, or via pay-TV, or streaming or download sites are usually restricted to private, home use. So in Hong Kong and elsewhere this means that if you want to watch a film or a TV programme anywhere other than your home you need a license that allows you to do it. We grant those licenses on behalf of our producer clients.
Q: Why did you contact our school? Were we singled out for special attention?
A: Following our discussions with Education Bureau officials, we contacted each and every registered educational establishment in Hong Kong to introduce ourselves and inform them about our Licensing Scheme providing anytime, anywhere, any device permission to publicly perform films and cable programmes. We wanted to explain (to each of them) the cost-effectiveness and beneficial advantage of an MPLC Umbrella License® by providing each of them a significant limited time discount offer against our published fees as an incentive for their consideration.
Q: But we’re a school. Why do we need a license at all? Don’t we get special protection under the law?
A: Both the Education Bureau and the Intellectual Property Department have made it clear that the liability exemption for instructional purposes covers only a small amount of the public performances taking place in or at schools every day; most fall outside of that exemption and require a license. It may be that certain activities took place in the past that weren’t properly cleared, and an MPLC Umbrella License® can provide a cost-effective compliance solution for both the past and future enjoyment of filmed entertainment.
Q: Why should we pay attention to you?
A: To learn more about the incredible ease and benefits of MPLC’s Umbrella License®. Our broad representation provides huge economies of scale, making an MPLC Umbrella License a cheaper and administratively easier alternative to onerous title-by-title licensing throughout a year. Also because you respect creativity and would probably prefer to watch movies legally instead of breaking the law, and as a school you want to set the right example for students by recognizing, respecting, and protecting intellectual property rights. But another big reason is that we have authorization from our clients to waive our customers' liability for any previous unlicensed public performances that may have taken place before we commenced our local operations.
Q: So what’s an MPLC Umbrella License® anyway?
A: It’s one of two types of licensed permissions we offer allowing our producer clients’ works to be performed publicly. The MPLC Umbrella License®, which is likely the most cost-beneficial option for most schools, allows the unlimited use, at any time, of any of our represented producers’ hundreds of thousands of film and television titles without the need for any further record keeping or usage reporting back to us. The only restrictions are that screenings may not be advertised to the general public, or subject to a separate admission charge.
Q: What are MPLC’s fees for schools, and how were they determined?
A: MPLC’s Umbrella License® fees for schools in Hong Kong were determined locally in accordance with affordability and existing market conditions. Our tiered pricing scheme was approved by the IPD and remains available online as a condition of our operations. School license fees for 2019 are based on a relatively low, per student basis (i.e. well less than HKD 100 per student per year)
Q: Do you provide the content as well?
A: No. Consistent with other copyright licensing schemes in Hong Kong, MPLC provides licensed permission allowing the use of any legally sourced content – whether from a DVD, or a pay-TV operator, or a licensed streaming or download site – containing our clients’ works.
Q: We usually only have one or two movie events throughout the year, so an Umbrella License may not be cost effective for us. And sometimes we show a movie to raise funds for student activities. Is there an alternative to the MPLC Umbrella License®?
A: Yes, we also issue title-by-title licenses that are limited to specifically identified and referenced events, rather than the anywhere/anytime authorization for any events within a licensed venue. A title-by-title license also allows for the screening to be advertised to the general public, and for an admission fee to be collected from attendees. But our producer clients usually impose further restrictions on title-by-title licenses, including price inconsistency, and on occasion, title availability.
Q: Does that cost less than an Umbrella License?
A: It really depends on the extent and type of usage. Because of the variables and administration involved with title-by-title licensing, usage fees are subject to individual negotiation in each instance rather than tiered or categorical pricing. If a school contemplates two or more film events throughout the year the MPLC Umbrella License® will usually be more cost-effective for most schools’ general needs, providing better value for the price.
Q: What if I don’t need an MPLC license?
A: First do your due diligence to determine with certainty that no performances have taken anywhere in the school within the past six years, because without an MPLC Umbrella License® the school remains legally liable for any past unauthorized activity involving our represented titles. For example, do students ever watch movies or browse online streaming sites in the library? Are there common areas, maybe within the hall or student hostels, where TVs and/or DVDs can be watched? Also give thought to any present or upcoming organized activity, and whether it might involve filmed entertainment before making a final decision. The benefits of prescriptive compliance outweigh the risk and public stigma associated with copyright infringement.
Q: I’ve done all of that and we still don’t need a license. Now what?
A: That’s fine; we just ask that you tell us so that we can update our records and stop contacting you. We’ll confirm your decision back to you and inform our clients and/or the relevant government authorities if they ever ask. You’ll remain legally responsible for any unlicensed performances that may still be within the statute of limitations, and/or for clearing any necessary permissions for any future performances.
Q: I still have some questions. How can I contact MPLC and/or apply for a license?
A: Call us at +852 3596 5857 and ask us any questions you might have, then complete our license application (Please download the PDF version from our website) by filling, checking the fee before signing and returning it to us. Pay our invoice upon receiving our license and that’s it.