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Re:Copyright and the theater

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  • k weast
    I teach at a small university where I direct and design. My philosophy and what I teach students is- if all one is doing is copying what some one else has done
    Message 1 of 13 , Jul 1, 2007
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      I teach at a small university where I direct and design.
      My philosophy and what I teach students is- if all one is doing is copying what some one else has done then one isn't being a creator simply a mimic. As artists we are to create not copy. A monkey can copy but that doesn't mean he/she has done analysis, studied, and looked at the script through a "different" perspective. Creativity requires skill and intellect not stealing someone elses creative product.



      "Working in the theater has a lot in common with unemployment." - Arthur Gingold



      ---------------------------------
      Luggage? GPS? Comic books?
      Check out fitting gifts for grads at Yahoo! Search.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Mom IS my real name
      My question, discussed here a few weeks ago, is still a little different. I ll word it more specifically than before: what to do with a designer , who is no
      Message 2 of 13 , Jul 2, 2007
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        My question, discussed here a few weeks ago, is still a little
        different. I'll word it more specifically than before: what to do
        with a "designer", who is no longer affiliated with our non-profit
        and donated her time and talent, who now claims her "vision" is her
        property? She says we can't use costumes and sets she designed
        anymore. I say that's ridiculous, and I'm the one who could run out
        and copyright patterns I developed for costumes made after her
        renderings. Likewise, I say she can protect her drawings, but not
        her "vision", especially since half her vision isn't unique at all,
        and I can prove it. What a pain. If I made the same claim, the
        ballet company in question would be dancing naked, since they have
        hundreds of pieces that I both designed and built, and many that I
        even paid for so that I could realize my "vision"!

        Some of you have already commented on this, but it's still giving me
        stomach aches. This artist doesn't seem to realize what she's doing
        to her own reputation. Should we ask all contributors now to sign
        something allowing the company to use sets and costumes in
        perpetuity? Have any of you ever been asked to do such a thing, or
        do you assume your work belongs to theatre or company you designed it
        for?

        Based on the "Urinetown" case I understand the arguement that I can't
        design something for one production and then make an identical piece
        for another production unless I own the rights somehow. That's
        something else this designer needs to know. Affiliation with a new
        ballet company means she should develope a new "vision" for the
        ballets she's designed already. Yes?

        Janelle
      • Sylvia Rognstad
        Who now owns the sets and costumes she designed? I assume the theatre does, in which case, they can do anything they want with them. If the designer didn t
        Message 3 of 13 , Jul 2, 2007
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          Who now owns the sets and costumes she designed? I assume the theatre
          does, in which case, they can do anything they want with them. If the
          designer didn't pay for the materials and left the sets and costumes
          with the theatre, they are not hers. Am I missing something here?
          Where are they physically?

          Sylrog

          On Jul 2, 2007, at 3:35 PM, Mom IS my real name wrote:

          > My question, discussed here a few weeks ago, is still a little
          > different. I'll word it more specifically than before: what to do
          > with a "designer", who is no longer affiliated with our non-profit
          > and donated her time and talent, who now claims her "vision" is her
          > property? She says we can't use costumes and sets she designed
          > anymore. I say that's ridiculous, and I'm the one who could run out
          > and copyright patterns I developed for costumes made after her
          > renderings. Likewise, I say she can protect her drawings, but not
          > her "vision", especially since half her vision isn't unique at all,
          > and I can prove it. What a pain. If I made the same claim, the
          > ballet company in question would be dancing naked, since they have
          > hundreds of pieces that I both designed and built, and many that I
          > even paid for so that I could realize my "vision"!
          >
          > Some of you have already commented on this, but it's still giving me
          > stomach aches. This artist doesn't seem to realize what she's doing
          > to her own reputation. Should we ask all contributors now to sign
          > something allowing the company to use sets and costumes in
          > perpetuity? Have any of you ever been asked to do such a thing, or
          > do you assume your work belongs to theatre or company you designed it
          > for?
          >
          > Based on the "Urinetown" case I understand the arguement that I can't
          > design something for one production and then make an identical piece
          > for another production unless I own the rights somehow. That's
          > something else this designer needs to know. Affiliation with a new
          > ballet company means she should develope a new "vision" for the
          > ballets she's designed already. Yes?
          >
          > Janelle
          >
          >
          >

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • David
          The pieces themselves belong to the theatre whether she was paid or not. She would only have a leg to stand (on point?) on if the company was planning a
          Message 4 of 13 , Jul 2, 2007
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            The pieces themselves belong to the theatre whether she was paid or
            not. She would only have a leg to stand (on point?) on if the company
            was planning a ocmplete remount of the production without coming to
            some kind of financial arrangement with her.

            --- In TheCostumersManifesto@yahoogroups.com, Sylvia Rognstad
            <sylvia@...> wrote:
            >
            > Who now owns the sets and costumes she designed? I assume the
            theatre
            > does, in which case, they can do anything they want with them. If
            the
            > designer didn't pay for the materials and left the sets and
            costumes
            > with the theatre, they are not hers. Am I missing something here?
            > Where are they physically?
            >
            > Sylrog
            >
            > On Jul 2, 2007, at 3:35 PM, Mom IS my real name wrote:
            >
            > > My question, discussed here a few weeks ago, is still a little
            > > different. I'll word it more specifically than before: what to do
            > > with a "designer", who is no longer affiliated with our non-
            profit
            > > and donated her time and talent, who now claims her "vision" is
            her
            > > property? She says we can't use costumes and sets she designed
            > > anymore. I say that's ridiculous, and I'm the one who could run
            out
            > > and copyright patterns I developed for costumes made after her
            > > renderings. Likewise, I say she can protect her drawings, but not
            > > her "vision", especially since half her vision isn't unique at
            all,
            > > and I can prove it. What a pain. If I made the same claim, the
            > > ballet company in question would be dancing naked, since they
            have
            > > hundreds of pieces that I both designed and built, and many that
            I
            > > even paid for so that I could realize my "vision"!
            > >
            > > Some of you have already commented on this, but it's still
            giving me
            > > stomach aches. This artist doesn't seem to realize what she's
            doing
            > > to her own reputation. Should we ask all contributors now to sign
            > > something allowing the company to use sets and costumes in
            > > perpetuity? Have any of you ever been asked to do such a thing,
            or
            > > do you assume your work belongs to theatre or company you
            designed it
            > > for?
            > >
            > > Based on the "Urinetown" case I understand the arguement that I
            can't
            > > design something for one production and then make an identical
            piece
            > > for another production unless I own the rights somehow. That's
            > > something else this designer needs to know. Affiliation with a
            new
            > > ballet company means she should develope a new "vision" for the
            > > ballets she's designed already. Yes?
            > >
            > > Janelle
            > >
            > >
            > >
            >
            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >
          • Curtis
            ... There s a whole category of copyright law on issues just like this, which is called work for hire (or something similar, but in more elaborate
            Message 5 of 13 , Jul 3, 2007
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              --- In TheCostumersManifesto@yahoogroups.com, "David" <djuby@...> wrote:
              >
              > The pieces themselves belong to the theatre whether she was paid or
              > not. She would only have a leg to stand (on point?) on if the company
              > was planning a ocmplete remount of the production without coming to
              > some kind of financial arrangement with her.

              There's a whole category of copyright law on issues just like this,
              which is called 'work for hire' (or something similar, but in more
              elaborate legalese...)

              When you contract to do work for someone, whether it is for pay or
              not, unless you stipulate in the contract that you retain the
              intellectual property rights, the party for whom the work was done
              owns the rights. ALL the rights. The example I mentioned was from
              the comic book industry...Stan Lee doesn't actually own Spiderman, for
              instance... Marvel Comics does. Stan Lee runs Marvel Comics, so he
              has de facto creative control...but other characters (a whole swarm of
              characters in X-Men and their derived titles) were created by other
              writers--who no longer have any say over what happens to their
              characters, and get no additional royalties regardless of how often
              their character gets used. Artists get no additional compensation if
              Marvel decides to use one of their images to make a poster that sells
              worldwide. (It's actually something of a sore point between many
              former employees and the company, even though it's the same with most
              of the major companies...the others just aren't as ruthless about it
              as Marvel has been).

              So there is no debate. If she does any research at all, she'll learn
              that she's got no rights on any of the stuff she's done for you. And,
              quite frankly, I'm amazed that she ever believed she did...I've never
              before heard of such a thing. Even if there wasn't all the extant
              copyright law that says she's wrong, there's a long string of existing
              precedents...which generally come into play when the law is hazy. I
              don't know a single designer who claims creative control of work
              they've done for hire...not even the ones who did stuff for the Salt
              Lake Olympics (not that anyone's about to remount THAT production,
              but...) It was patently obvious that they were doing the work for
              someone else, and once they were done, their involvement in the
              project was over. PERIOD.
            • Mom IS my real name
              All of the costumes in question are for ballets in the company s repertoire, which means they are used as frequently as annually (Nutcracker), and as
              Message 6 of 13 , Jul 3, 2007
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                All of the costumes in question are for ballets in the company's
                repertoire, which means they are used as frequently as annually
                (Nutcracker), and as infrequently as every four to six years. A few
                new matching pieces have to be made to fit new dancers each cycle. All
                of the costumes are in the posession of the ballet company, in a
                locked "closet" in the same facility as the rehearsal studios. Except
                for the Artistic Director and choreographers, this company is an
                entirely volunteer run non-profit and has been for 30 years. As in so
                much "little theatre" even the performers are unpaid, happy for the
                exposure and the chance to dance on stage.

                I think the whole thing is crazy. As a volunteer, I'm always just
                thrilled to see my work on stage. Why would I want to own it?! This
                person's work is beautiful. She's easy to work with and the dancers
                feel so special in the costumes we've made from her designs. I feel
                terrible that this is happening.

                Janelle
              • Sylvia Rognstad
                Has the designer hired a lawyer? It doesn t sound like she has a leg to stand on (no pun intended, although it is a ballet company) even with an attorney. ...
                Message 7 of 13 , Jul 3, 2007
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                  Has the designer hired a lawyer? It doesn't sound like she has a leg
                  to stand on (no pun intended, although it is a ballet company)
                  even with an attorney.


                  On Jul 3, 2007, at 10:39 AM, Mom IS my real name wrote:

                  > All of the costumes in question are for ballets in the company's
                  > repertoire, which means they are used as frequently as annually
                  > (Nutcracker), and as infrequently as every four to six years. A few
                  > new matching pieces have to be made to fit new dancers each cycle. All
                  > of the costumes are in the posession of the ballet company, in a
                  > locked "closet" in the same facility as the rehearsal studios. Except
                  > for the Artistic Director and choreographers, this company is an
                  > entirely volunteer run non-profit and has been for 30 years. As in so
                  > much "little theatre" even the performers are unpaid, happy for the
                  > exposure and the chance to dance on stage.
                  >
                  > I think the whole thing is crazy. As a volunteer, I'm always just
                  > thrilled to see my work on stage. Why would I want to own it?! This
                  > person's work is beautiful. She's easy to work with and the dancers
                  > feel so special in the costumes we've made from her designs. I feel
                  > terrible that this is happening.
                  >
                  > Janelle
                  >
                  >
                  >

                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Julia Trimarco
                  When I was in college, I learned that in the Ballet world, unlike many other areas of the performing arts, a ownership of a particular production includes all
                  Message 8 of 13 , Jul 28, 2007
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                    When I was in college, I learned that in the Ballet world, unlike many other areas of the performing arts, a ownership of a particular production includes all aspects of staging and design. Case in point, Ballanchine's Nutcracker, as performed by the NYCB for decades. Tying the choreography to the orchestral arrangements to the production design for perpetuity is a more obvious necessity in the dance world. However, I would like to see Designers be afforded more property rights than they have been. Like the discussion of intellectual property regarding the fashion world on this page, this is very similiar. Of course you can never stop people from copying details, or even a whole costume for use in a different play. But for a stage production, the line can be even more clearly drawn than in fashion. If the design of an entire production is copied, the fraud is pretty obviously intentional. The key is in the contract. I've learned that nothing replaces a
                    good written contract, and anyone who enters a work agreement without one, is asking for trouble.
                    -Jypsie


                    ----- Original Message ----
                    From: Sylvia Rognstad <sylvia@...>
                    To: TheCostumersManifesto@yahoogroups.com
                    Sent: Saturday, June 30, 2007 5:55:07 PM
                    Subject: Re: [TheCostumersManifesto] Copyright and the theater

                    Our Boulder Dinner Theatre did a production of Cabaret recently and
                    while I had not seen the Broadway revival, I had seen photos of the
                    cabaret host and the Boulder designer's costume for him was pretty much
                    exactly the same. I gathered the rest of the costumes were also as
                    similar as possible. I assume it was the director who wanted that look
                    but I would have liked some originality. I will have to keep this
                    article to show any directors I happen to work with in the future who
                    ask for me to just copy a Broadway production.

                    Sylrog

                    On Jun 29, 2007, at 12:01 PM, llsturts@greatlakes .net wrote:

                    > Yesterday, I was going through some past copies of 'Stage Directions'
                    > magazines, before dumping them and came across the following article
                    > in
                    > the January 2007 issue. I couldn�t find it anywhere online, so here�s
                    > the
                    > copy verbatim:
                    >
                    > >From the IN THE GREENROOM column by Iris Dorbian
                    >
                    > COPYRIGHT BREACH?
                    >
                    > The notion of what can be considered intellectual property�or not�is
                    > being
                    > given an interesting twist with copyright infringement charges
                    > recently
                    > leveled against two Midwest theatres by the Broadway producers of the
                    > 2002
                    > hit musical, 'Urinetown'.
                    >
                    > According to an article by Campbell Robertson that appeared in the
                    > November 15, 2006 edition of the 'New York Times', letters drafted by
                    > a
                    > lawyer, Ronald H. Shechtman, on behalf of the director John Rando, the
                    > choreographer John Carrefa, and the set, lighting and costume
                    > designers of
                    > the Broadway production, were sent to the team involved in the
                    > award-winning production at the Mercury Theater in Chicago and to the
                    > team
                    > behind the Carousel Dinner Theatre production of the show in Akron.
                    >
                    > The letters accused both companies of replicating the directorial and
                    > design aspects of the Broadway productions. Though both companies did
                    > get
                    > permission to use the script and music of 'Urinetown', that did not
                    > extend
                    > to "reproducing creative decisions made by the Broadway production's
                    > director, choreographer and designers."
                    >
                    > The Broadway team is demanding that both productions provide a
                    > "detailed
                    > accounting of all their revenues, from which an appropriate license
                    > fee"
                    > would be determined. They are also asking that Brian Loeffler, the
                    > choreographer of the Mercury Theater production who won a Joseph
                    > Jefferson
                    > Award for his work return his award. If these demands are not met,
                    > continues the article, then the Broadway team will seek damages in
                    > court.
                    >
                    > What makes this case particularly noteworthy for the theatre
                    > community is
                    > that although the legal standard of copyright does protect the text
                    > and
                    > score, both of which are regarded as intellectual property, that does
                    > not
                    > necessarily apply to other elements of production.
                    >
                    > ***
                    >
                    > Anyone have any thoughts on this whole matter?
                    >
                    > One of my design philosophies, and what I teach my students, is just
                    > because it's been done before doesn't mean it *has* to be done that
                    > way
                    > again. If there's a costume plot with a given script, it's nothing
                    > more
                    > than a jumping off place--what was done for the original production.
                    > That's all fine and good unless you're working with a director that,
                    > for
                    > what ever reason, feels the need to duplicate that original
                    > production.
                    >
                    > I�m in discussions right now with one such director: the play is a
                    > musical
                    > adaptation of a cult movie. The script has a costume plot that is more
                    > detail specific than some I do for shows. I've tried to explain this
                    > to
                    > the director, but he's adamant that if it was in the movie, and the
                    > original production, it will be used in our show. I'm balking at that,
                    > needless to say. In one instance, the costume plot calls for the
                    > leading
                    > lady to wear a red shirt, and red is just not a color she can wear
                    > well. I
                    > think, by showing him this article, it will put an end to our
                    > discussions. ..
                    >
                    > ~lisa.s
                    >
                    >
                    >

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