On February 4, 2020, the Cable News Network (CNN) published a news story about a screening of the movie “The Lion King” that took place at Emerson Elementary School in Berkley, California. More than two months after the event, the school received an email stating that they had to pay $250 for illegally screening the movie.
The movie screening, which was held by a dad-run parent teacher association (PTA), was by all accounts a success. The event raised approximately $800. However, on Jan. 30, 2020, the PTA and the school’s principal received a letter from Disney’s licensing company, Movie Licensing USA, stating that they had broken copyright law and needed to pay $250. The dads had no idea that the PTA had to pay a one-time licensing fee of $250 to show the film at its fundraiser.
Berkeley City Council member Lori Droste believes that Disney is being unfair in demanding the fee. According to Droste, “[t]here was an initiative passed in 1979 called Proposition 13 which casts the property tax on all land, and so Disney's property tax rates are at 1978 values which translates into millions upon millions of dollars a year that Disney is not paying. […] Because of that, our schools are now extremely underfunded" Droste told CNN.
Droste went on to say that parents at the school are angry about this new fine, which for many low-income families is not a small price to pay.
Neither Disney nor its licensing firm, Movie Licensing USA, responded to CNN’s requests for comment.
CNN’s full report on the story can be found here.
Summary By: Jae Morris
Disclaimer: This Newsletter is intended to provide readers with general information on legal developments in the areas of e-commerce, information technology and intellectual property. It is not intended to be a complete statement of the law, nor is it intended to provide legal advice. No person should act or rely upon the information contained in this newsletter without seeking legal advice.
E-TIPS is a registered trade-mark of Deeth Williams Wall LLP.