Walt Disney Co. CEO Robert Iger has pledged to donate to a California elementary school after the school’s parent-teacher association was fined $250 for showing the “Lion King” movie during a fundraising event.
According to CNN, Emerson Elementary School in Berkeley was fined by licensing firm Movie Licensing USA, which was representing Disney, for showing the movie at the parents’ night out fundraiser in mid-November, which raised $800.
“One of the dads bought the movie at Best Buy,” PTA president David Rose told CNN. “He owned it. We literally had no idea we were breaking any rules.”
Berkeley City Councilwoman Lori Droste took to Twitter Jan. 31 to share the school’s saga in a multi-part tweet.
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“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?” Droste tweeted.
The Federal Copyright Act requires schools to get proper licenses for public performances, defined as any movie showing outside a person’s home, according to Movie Licensing USA‘s website. Just buying or renting a movie does not give schools the right to screen a movie, regardless of whether teachers charge an admission fee or how old the movie is.
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“A public performance license ensures money will be paid to the entire cast and crew who worked on a film from start to finish,” the website says. “If these men and women do not receive this hard-earned revenue through sources like licensing fees, they may no longer invest their time, research and development costs to create new movies.”
Iger apologized to the school Thursday.
“Our company @WaltDisneyCo apologizes to the Emerson Elementary School PTA and I will personally donate to their fund raising initiative,” Iger tweeted Thursday.
Contributing: Kristin Lam
Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko