The Motion Picture Licensing Company (MPLC), collecting royalties on behalf of the Hollywood studios in Ireland, has demanded payments from kindergartens in Ireland; requesting that 3 Euros (or AU$5.36), plus 17.5% VAT, per child per annum just so the children can watch DVDs legally.
It recently wrote 2,500 kindergartens (or preschools in Ireland) saying that it was illegal to show the movies in public without the correct license. It was sent with the approval of the Irish Preschool Pay Association (IPPA), which represents the preschools.
The MPLC initially wanted the preschools paying 10 Euros (AU$17.86), but the IPPA managed to get that reduced. However, one has criticised the move, asking how could this be legal in Ireland and has no intention to pay the 3 Euros just they can have an “umbrella license” which “gives you access to 1000s of films.”
“I don’t think too many judges would come down hard on a playschool over this,” she said. “We would rarely show DVDs anyway because it’s frowned upon — kids get enough TV at home. The odd time we would pretend to go to the cinema. We give the children tickets and they watch 20 minutes of Snow White, Fireman Sam or SpongeBob,” she said to The Sunday Times.
The MLPC only begun operating in recent months, after setting up in the UK in 2003, and begun targeting other sectors demanding that they pay for a license. However, it just could put its own staff in jail or be fined after it failed to register with the Irish Patent Office, and by demanding payments in the way that they have, they breached the 2000 Copyright Act.
The MLPC, which operates in 18 countries, has said that it has, belatedly, applied for a license to collect royalties in Ireland; and have also defended its move to charge preschool infants to watch DVDs, saying, “I don’t think too many judges would come down hard on a playschool over this,” she said. “We were able to convince the studios to [settle] for this low fee. Traditionally, film companies charge €100 or more for a single showing of one title.”