California School Forced To Pay For Playing The Lion King At Fundraiser

by : Julia Banim on : 05 Feb 2020 18:19
School Forced To Pay For Playing The Lion King At FundraiserSchool Forced To Pay For Playing The Lion King At FundraiserDisney

A school in California isn’t exactly feeling the love tonight, after being fined for playing the 2019 remake of The Lion King at a fundraiser.

Emerson Elementary School in Berkeley played the Disney tearjerker after one of the dads brought a copy to a ‘parent’s night out’ fundraiser on November 15 last year. Those in attendance reportedly thought nothing of hitting play, with the film simply having been a means to keep the kids entertained.


However, two months after the event, the school received a sternly worded email from Movie Licensing USA, the company that manages licensing for Disney and other mammoth film studios.

School Forced To Pay For Playing The Lion King At FundraiserSchool Forced To Pay For Playing The Lion King At FundraiserGoogle Maps

As reported by CNN, the school was handed a bill instructing them to cough up a cool $250 for allegedly screening the movie illegally.

They were also informed they would need to pay $250 for every screening of the movie at any future school events, as they did not have a licence with the company.


According to the email, which has been obtained by CNN, the showing in question was regarded to be a ‘public performance’, meaning the school would have needed to get permission:

Any time a movie is shown outside of the home, legal permission is needed to show it, as it is considered a Public Performance.

Any time movies are shown without the proper license, copyright law is violated and the entity showing the movie can be fined by the studios. If a movie is shown for any entertainment reason — even in the classroom, it is required by law that the school obtains a Public Performance license.

At the time of writing, it’s unclear exactly how Movie Licensing USA found out about the movie being shown in the first place.

still from the Lion King 2019 remakestill from the Lion King 2019 remakeDisney

PTA president David Rose told CNN how the PTA will ‘somewhat begrudgingly’ cover the fine:

One of the dads bought the movie at Best Buy. He owned it. We literally had no idea we were breaking any rules.

Luckily, Emerson Elementary School has not had to cover the $250 fine out of the $800 it raised at the event, after people reached out with donations.

The Lion KingThe Lion KingDisney

Berkeley City Council member and Emerson Elementary School parent Lori Droste spoke to CNN about the unfairness of the situation, emphasising how the allegedly underpaid property tax rates paid by Disney have already negatively affected the area:

There was an initiative passed in 1979 called Proposition 13 which casts the property tax on all land, and so Disney’s property tax rates are at 1978 values which translates into millions upon millions of dollars a year that Disney is not paying.

Because of that, our schools are now extremely underfunded. We went from the ’70s being among the top education systems in the US to one of the lowest.

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: Film and TV, Disney, Fundraiser, School, The Lion King


  1. CNN

    A school played 'The Lion King' at a fundraising event. Now it has to pay a third of what it raised