Culture

Elementary school fined $250 for playing ‘The Lion King’ at fundraising event

Elementary school fined $250 for playing ‘The Lion King’ at fundraising event”

A California father's decision to put on a DVD of "The Lion King" to entertain kids at a parents'-night-out fundraiser may end up costing an elementary school $250, Berkeleyside reports.

Thursday, Emerson Elementary received a letter from Disney's licensing agent, Movie Licensing USA, ordering the school to pay $250 for screening the film without a license. "He owned it. We literally had no idea we were breaking any rules".

The fundraiser was first noticed by Movie Licensing USA, which manages license rights for Disney and other major movie studios.

It's unclear how Movie Licensing USA discovered that the PTA group had shown The Lion King at the event, although the fundraiser was publicly listed on an event booking website.

According to copyright law, a licensing fee must be paid any time there's a public performance - meaning outside a home - of a movie, regardless if admission was charged.

"Any time movies are shown without the proper license, copyright law is violated and the entity showing the movie can be fined by the studios". Copyright law says you can not play a movie outside of your home to any size audience for entertainment purposes without paying a licensing fee.

Berkeley City Council member Lori Droste, who is also a parent at Emerson Elementary, believes Disney is being unfair.

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The dads were not aware and now have to pay the $250 one-time showing fee.

"There 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", Droste told CNN.

"The fundamental message is this: it's absurd that PTAs throughout California have to raise money (a lot!) to pay for teachers and financial scholarships when this can be easily remedied through investment in our public schools", she tweeted on Monday.

"We're responsible for checking to make sure their movies are protected, basically", Goellner said, according to the publication.

Disney did not respond to CNN's request for comment.

Because of the fee, Rose added that the Emerson PTA will rethink how it will hold events in the future and may not even have movies as a part of fundraisers. However, some people have reached out to the school to help the PTA with donations, she said. They ultimately raised $800 from the event, but two months later, Disney came calling to demand $250 of the proceeds.



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