Virtually all movies are copyrighted which prevents displaying without a license. The Federal Copyright Act (Title 17, United States code, Public Law 94-553, 90 Stat. 2541) governs how copyrighted materials, such as movies, may be utilized publicly.
If the movie is displayed privately with only invited family and friends there is no copyright violation. For example, showing a movie during a backyard birthday party with your invited guests does not require a copyright license.
For public showings, you must have the consent of the copyright owner. The law defines public as a place that is open to anyone or has a substantial number of persons outside your normal social circle. For example, if everyone in the neighborhood is allowed to your party, including people you don’t know, a public performance license is required. If you are hosting a movie event outside the boundaries of your own property, a public performance license is required.
The good news is a public performance license for most movies is easy to obtain and can be very affordable. There are two agencies that can provide the licensing you need.
Both have user friendly websites where you can search for a movie, submit a quote request, or you can call them and work directly with a friendly representative. If you need assistance, Bring the Big Screen is glad to help with the process.