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Determining Availability of Films and TV Programs

It is a very good idea to verify the availability of a film or TV program before proposing it as a meeting topic; a film or TV program that is in the wrong format, unlicensed for library showing, very expensive, or difficult to locate will make it difficult or impossible to show the film or program during the meeting. It is possible to have a successful meeting by circulating the film or program around the club in the days or weeks before the meeting; however, there is more work involved since we tend to need multiple copies of the film or program circulating in order to get it around to everyone in time. Circulating the film before the meeting has the added advantage that the film doesn't need to be licensed for library showing and we can devote the whole meeting to the topic, not just the time remaining after the film has been shown.

The tabs below give more detail about each of these aspects of determining film or TV program availability.

Important: If you find that any of the information on this page is not accurate when you try to use it, contact the webmaster. Be sure to mention the corrections if you know them!


The London Public Library has agreements with two major licensing companies that permit us to show any of the films or TV programs that they represent. These companies cover the large majority of available films and TV programs, although there are certainly some films and programs that they don't permit. We can only show films and programs which are covered by the Library's agreements with those two companies.

The two companies with which the Library has agreements are Criterion and ACF. To determine if a given film or program can be shown at the library, simply search their websites by the title of the film and if either of them licenses that film, it can be shown at the library. However, there are special cases so even if the film doesn't appear in either the ACF or Criterion databases, it may be possible for us to show it anyway. If that happens, contact the Library Liaison on the SFL Executive to have him/her check with the Library to see if this film might be an exception.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If the film or program in question is owned by HBO or KinoSmith, it must still be in the ACF or Criterion databases to be shown in the library. In addition, Science Fiction London will have to pay an additional license fee to show it. Since that will normally be beyond our budget, we will not normally show anything that is an HBO or KinoSmith production.

Examples

Let's say that you want to determine if the film Gone With The Wind can be shown at the library. This film is not an HBO or KinoSmith production.

Check the ACF website:

  1. Go to the ACF homepage.
  2. Type the title in the Search by Title box near the upper right hand corner of the page. In this case, type gone with the wind. Then click on the magnifying glass icon at the right end of the box.
  3. The search returns with 0 movie(s) found. This means that Gone With The Wind is not a title that they license.

Check the Criterion website:

  1. Go to the Criterion homepage.
  2. Click on Title Search.
  3. On the Quick Criterion Search page, enter your title in the box beside the instructions Find results with all the words: and set the Optionally Search using: dropdown box to Title. In this case, type gone with the wind in the first box and set the dropdown box to Title, then press the green Submit button.
  4. The page is rewritten and includes information about the search results at the top of the page. In the case of Gone with the Wind, the result would be: "2 item(s) were found". If you click on the individual items, you'd see that one was the classic 1939 film while the other is a 10 minute short that is (presumably) unrelated to the classic film. This means Gone With The Wind is one of the titles they license. (If a movie has been remade a time or two, any or all of the remakes might be found. Remember that we can show only the versions that are found by the search.) If the movie being searched was not found, the line at the top of the page would say 0 items found, indicating that the movie was not licensed by Criterion.

Since one of the two companies, Criterion in this case, licenses Gone With The Wind, it can be shown at the library.

Now, let's say you want to see if Bladerunner can be shown at the library. Bladerunner is not an HBO or KinoSmith production. Repeat the steps shown above but enter Bladerunner in the search boxes instead of Gone With The Wind. This time, you will find that the film isn't licensed by either company so it appears that Bladerunner can not be shown at the library. However, because there are special cases, it is strongly advised that you contact the Library Liaison on the SFL Executive to have him/her check with the Library to see if this film might be an exception.

Finally, let's pretend that you want to see if The Sopranos can be shown at the library. Repeat the steps above but enter The Sopranos in the search boxes instead of Gone With The Wind. This time, you will find that the film is licensed by ACF but, since it is an HBO production, an additional fee will need to be paid by Science Fiction London in order to be able to show it. If you really want to show this series, you will need to persuade the members of Science Fiction London to find that money in the budget or obtain it via some kind of fund-raising effort. If you can do that, we will be able to present The Sopranos as a meeting topic. Otherwise, a different topic should be proposed.



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