Did you know that every time one of your darling, overworked grade school teachers wheeled out that rickety A.V. cart and launched yet another showing of Fern Gully, they were actually carrying out the dastardly deeds of an unfeeling, wanted criminal? It’s true (sort of)! According to Movie Licensing USA, those instances were technically “Public Performances,” not “chill the hell out while the teacher catches up on some shit” time, like we previously assumed. Even if they lugged their dust-caked copy of Flight Of The Navigator from home, they still had to obtain a Public Performance license. Publicly showing any film without a proper license—even in the confines of a classroom—is illegal and can result in a fine.
Earlier this week, CNN caught wind of a story about a school learning this lesson the hard (and ridiculous) way. Originally reported by Berkeleyside, Emerson Elementary School in Berkeley, California was recently fined $250 for a “screening” of 2019's The Lion King during a “parent’s night out” charity event. The school’s Parent Teacher Association received the email informing them of the transgression more than two months after the school event took place and while they have no clue which snitch alerted the feds, they have “begrudgingly” agreed to pay the dumb fee. “One of the dads bought the movie at Best Buy,” P.T.A. president David Rose told CNN. “He owned it. We literally had no idea we were breaking any rules.”
The story of Disney demanding money from an actual elementary school caused enough of a ruckus to garner the attention of Bob Iger, who likely realized that this kind of press couldn’t possibly bode well for The Mouse. On Thursday he tweeted an apology to Emerson and announced that Disney would be making a donation to the school, as a costly olive branch. (Well, costly for anyone who isn’t the head of a multi billion-dollar conglomerate, we imagine.)
Let us take this time to personally thank each an every teacher who risked their freedom—or at least a percentage of their income—in order to keep us entertained while they graded papers or suffered through their awful wine hangovers. We can now fully appreciate the sacrifice.