Copyright Reminders

By Casey Stoutamire, FDA Chief Legal Officer

This is just a friendly reminder that any time you use a photo in an email publication, print publication (meeting brochure, newsletter, etc.) or on your website, you must have permission to use that photo. For example, if it is for an upcoming meeting and you want to use pictures of the hotel and/or rooms, work with your hotel contact to get permission, in writing, to use them (this is usually in the form of a license or sublicense).

In addition, if you use a web designer, check your agreement with them to make sure it contains a provision under which the designer will indemnify the association (component or affiliate) if the designer’s improper use of a third-party intellectual property (for example, pictures of a hotel) subjects the association to a claim/liability from the owner.

The same goes for playing music and offering television or movies in your office. The U.S. Copyright Act, Title 17 of the United States Code, gives copyright owners control over the public exhibition of their works. In nearly all cases, this means that a public performance license is required to show copyrighted content in public. And yes, dental and medical offices are considered public spaces when it comes to copyright law. This requirement applies even if the content can only be viewed by a single patient. This section of law applies to movies, television programs, and other audiovisual content enjoyed from sources like broadcast, cable or satellite television; DVDs; downloads; or streaming services. If you fail to comply with copyright law, you could be liable for damages ranging from $750 to $150,000 for each illegal showing, plus court costs and attorneys fees. Long story short, by showing tv programs and movies without a license, you risk fines for copyright infringement and the monetary repercussions can be significant.

However, there is good news. For several years, the American Dental Association has worked with the Motion Picture Licensing Corporation (MPLC) to provide a discount for members on copyright licensing. MPLC issues the license your practice needs to show copyrighted content in compliance with federal copyright law. The Umbrella License allows for unlimited showings at your dental office without fear of copyright infringement. It provides coverage for old and new titles from more than 1,000 motion picture and television rights holders, including Disney, CBS, Warner Bros., NBCUniversal, Paramount, ABC, Televisa, HGTV, Lionsgate, Discovery and many more. To secure an Umbrella License, visit or contact MPLC at 866.552.MPLC (6752) or Information is also available at