An elementary school has landed a small fine from Disney's licensing firm after The Lion King was screened for children during a fundraiser. CNN reports that Emerson Elementary School in Berkeley, California hosted a fundraiser with parents and the school has since received a $250 fine for illegally playing the movie.
"One of the dads bought the movie at Best Buy," PTA president David Rose explained. "He owned it. We literally had no idea we were breaking any rules."
The email detailing the fine was received around two months after the event took place, and the school is unaware of how the licensing company knew the 2019 Lion King remake was screened. Regardless, Rose added the school would "somewhat begrudgingly" cover the cost of the fine. Then Disney CEO Bob Iger opted to respond on Twitter.
"Our company @WaltDisneyCo apologizes to the Emerson Elementary School PTA and I will personally donate to their fund raising initiative," Iger wrote on Feb. 6.
Movie Licensing USA, a company which manages licensing for Disney and a number of other major studies, told the school it had "received an alert" the film was played during the Nov. 15 event. Emerson Elementary does not have a license with the company, and as such any future showing of the movie will cost the school $250 each time.
"Any time a movie is shown outside of the home, legal permission is needed to show it, as it is considered a Public Performance," the email from Movie Licensing USA reads. "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."
Understandably, some parents were not happy about the situation. Berkeley City Council member Lori Droster said Disney's practices in this regard are unfair. "It's just so appalling that an incredibly wealthy corporation...is having its licensing agents chase after a PTA having to raise insane amounts of money just to pay teachers, cover financial scholarships and manage school programs," Droste told CNN.
The school earned $800 at the fundraising event.