Netflix or DVDs in your lobby is a costly entertainment option

 Streaming services or DVDs played in your lobby can be an expensive option

An $8.00 monthly Netflix account or purchasing a $10 DVD from your local retailer, on the surface, can appear an affordable option for entertainment for guests in your reception area.  The true cost of this practice can be much greater than the initial expense.  Medical and dental practices are subject to fines of up to $150,000 as a result of entertainment in their lobby, exam, operatory or recovery areas from the Motion Picture Association of American (MPAA)
I've bought it, why can't I use it? 
When you purchase a DVD or a streaming service, you own the actual disc and have purchased usage rights.  These rights allow it to be played in small groups in private so long as no fees are collected.  These rights specifically prohibit any display in a commercial or public setting.  According to Netflix as of October of this year, there is no intentions of providing a service line to businesses. 
Many dental and medical practices mistakenly assume they can play DVDs they have purchased or access Netflix to stream movies. This mistake can be costly, as several clinics across the west have been contacted and fined for violations as a result of this practice.  
What is my exposure?
According to the MPAA, minimum fines begin at $750.00 per the number of offenses.  You can do the math and decide how high that fee would be on any given day in your practice.  MPAA has an investigative staff of 10,000 field representatives looking to stop infringement, so the exposure is real. The risk is not only with violation of the terms and conditions of your Netflix account, but also with the MPAA, and the federal government.
I just provide the hardware
If you provide the DVD player for your customers to view movies when it is their own DVD, you remain at risk.  This places you in a position as a contributory infringer, simply by providing the means for your customers to watch the videos in a public place.  If your customer brings a personal viewing device such as their own personal DVD players or laptop, using their own DVD or Netflix account, you have no liability.
Cable/Satellite TV Pitfalls
Even your cable box and/or satellite receiver does not eliminate your exposure.  Using a cable/satellite TV provider and playing premium non-advertiser supported programming carries risk.  This includes programming such as Starz, HBO, or pay-per-view events.  The terms and conditions specifically prohibit public exhibition of this content.  
But this is a private practice
Describing yourself as a private practice does not remove liability according to the Title 17 of the US Copyright Act § 101 which defines public to mean "a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of persona, outside of a normal circle of family and its social acquaintance is gathered..."
What can I do instead?
Screen Content Management provides licensed content and entertainment to your patients and guests.  Not only is your risk of fine eliminated, you are able to actually use your televisions to grow your practice, increase online engagement, and boost professionalism.  Additionally, your cable or satellite provider may have channels that you are free to publicly display in your business.  This information is often found in the terms and conditions with your provider.  

What to do upon receipt of notice of possible infringement?

Contact your attorney for legal advice

This article is informative only and should not be viewed as legal advice.  Should you have questions on copyright and potential infringement, please contact your attorney. 


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