The school, according to multiple reports, has been ordered to pay $250 for showing the film during a parent-teacher association event, designed to fund supplies and other needs. Tickets were advertised on Eventbrite with a suggested donation of $15, per SFGate.
“I think one of the dads owned the movie,” which was released on DVD in October, PTA President David Rose told FOX 40 Monday. “He had bought it at Walmart and we just basically threw it on while the kids were playing in the auditorium.”
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Movie Licensing USA, a licensing firm that represents Disney, notified the school that it violated copyright law by playing the movie for a crowd without a license. Per copyright law, movies cannot be displayed outside of a home to an audience without a $250 single-use permit.
Berkeley City Councilmember Lori Droste showed her frustration on Twitter: “Who wants to hear an unbelievable story about how Disney is essentially fining Berkeley’s Emerson Elementary School PTA $250 while reaping millions of dollars through a corporate loophole that has decimated public schools across California?”
Emerson’s event raised a total of $800. Rose said the school intends to pay the fine: “If we have to fork over a third of it to Disney, so be it. You know, lesson learned.”
The Walt Disney Company, including both its entertainment properties and its parks operations, has a market capitalization greater than $238 billion, according to Forbes. Its stock has jumped 10 percent in the last three months and is up 29 percent on the year.
Disney did not immediately respond to FOX Business' request for comment.