Author Topic: Copyright laws  (Read 8344 times)

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Erin_Candice

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Copyright laws
« on: Aug 19, 2006, 01:57 pm »
I'm working for a small profession summer stock.  On of the board members wanted to record a performance for archival, publicity, and most likely personal use.  The director was contacted and he said absolutely not.  This caused a lot of tension.  I've emailed MTI asking what their official position is, to which they replied no recording ever. 

Now, I have worked at number of theatres that make archival tapes for the vault and nobody else.  I was under the impression that you can make one archival recording for the company and you can record for promotional use as long as it is no more then 30 seconds at a time and not a complete scene or song. 

Does anybody know (for certain) what the copyright laws are in terms of video, who can prosecute, who can have a copy, etc.  And what about photocopies of the scripts.  I'm not asking about standard practice, but what the technical rules are.
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Scott

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Re: Copyright laws
« Reply #1 on: Aug 19, 2006, 04:53 pm »
Now, I have worked at number of theatres that make archival tapes for the vault and nobody else.  I was under the impression that you can make one archival recording for the company and you can record for promotional use as long as it is no more then 30 seconds at a time and not a complete scene or song. 
I'm not asking about standard practice, but what the technical rules are.

Yes, producers love it when we have those "impressions" -- all taping, including archival, is regulated (with the intent to discourage)by most Equity agreements that I am familar with.  (I haven't worked a COST contract in a long time, but it looks like Olney Theatre, North Shore Music Theatre and Paper Mill are allowed to make archival recordings, under specific terms.)  The technical rules are those of whatever the specific contact you are working under...

P.S.  What is MTI?

Erin_Candice

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Re: Copyright laws
« Reply #2 on: Aug 19, 2006, 06:18 pm »
MTI is Music Theatre International, the company that owns the rights to nearly every musical out there.
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ReyYaySM

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Re: Copyright laws
« Reply #3 on: Aug 19, 2006, 11:58 pm »
(I haven't worked a COST contract in a long time, but it looks like Olney Theatre, North Shore Music Theatre and Paper Mill are allowed to make archival recordings, under specific terms.) 

I SM for Olney Theatre, and yes, under the COST contract we are allowed to make an Archival video tape provided that there is a 3/4 majority vote (by secret ballot) of all AEA members in the company.  The reproduction may be viewed by theatre employees, individuals connected artistically to the theatre, scholars, teachers, students of the visual and performing arts, and Equity members.  (Reference COST rule 56G, pages 73-75 for further details).

We are also permitted to shoot up to one-half hour of footage for publicity purposes (tv, websites, etc), of which no more than 3 minutes can be shown, and no scene may be longer than 30 seconds and/or a complete song (also under COST rule 56, pages 71-75). 

Now as far as the publishing house is concerned, the specifics regarding recording should be included in the Royalties contract that the theatre signed when they got the rights to produce the show.  This will vary by show and publishing house.  Check with your producer for the specifics.

MatthewShiner

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Re: Copyright laws
« Reply #4 on: Aug 20, 2006, 08:50 am »
That may indeed be Equity's side of the rules, the 3/4 majority, but . . . they don't own the show.

You still need to check with the person who owns the rights to the show; most of the time there seems to be little trouble with allowing an archival video, but every royality owner is different.

The joy of working on Shakespeare, he hardly seems to care if we videotape his producitons.

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SMJon

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Re: Copyright laws
« Reply #5 on: Aug 20, 2006, 10:48 am »
I don't know what MTI says but I do know that most Broadway shows are archived for Lincoln Center and can be shown to scholars and those doing research as long as you can prove that you have a significant academic reason to view the material.  Some regional theatres do the same and I know DC has the Washington Video Archives or some title like that which houses many archival tapings of shows in the region and can be accessed for scholarly reasons. 

ReyYaySM

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Re: Copyright laws
« Reply #6 on: Aug 20, 2006, 03:36 pm »
That may indeed be Equity's side of the rules, the 3/4 majority, but . . . they don't own the show.

You still need to check with the person who owns the rights to the show; most of the time there seems to be little trouble with allowing an archival video, but every royality owner is different.

I didn't mean to imply that we conduct the vote and record the performance regardless of what the publishing house allows; I always check with the Producer as to what we are allowed to do in terms of recording/reproduction per the Royalties Contract before taking a vote/scheduling the archival taping. 

I know DC has the Washington Video Archives or some title like that which houses many archival tapings of shows in the region and can be accessed for scholarly reasons.

Yes, it's called WAPAVA - the Washington Area Performing Arts Video Archive.  Here's a link to their website
« Last Edit: Aug 20, 2006, 03:42 pm by dramachic5191 »

centaura

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Re: Copyright laws
« Reply #7 on: Aug 21, 2006, 07:27 am »
Someone said it earlier - you need to find the contract that was signed to get the rights for your production, and read what that the provisions are.  Most contracts will have provisions for archival and publicity video, so it should be spelled out.

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SM_Art

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Re: Copyright laws
« Reply #8 on: Aug 21, 2006, 01:03 pm »
Broadway shows are videotaped for archival purposes, but the League of Broadway producers must have a deal with the publishing companies to do so.  No matter what the contract says, US copyright law overrides an AEA contract, and the publishing company MUST grant permission for it to be taped legally.  The last word is key, because everyone and their brother does it 'for archival purposes only' illegally, thinking if they're not selling it it's ok.  It's not.
Now... do we have to be the 'video police'?  That's a different question.  If a theatre comes to me with a form to have the actors fill out, stating they acknowledge it'll be taped for archival purposes, I'll have them fill it out and sign it, but I won't ask if they have obtained permission - that's not my job.  I'm covering the actors, and my, asses as far as AEA is concerned, so that if it DOES show up on the air somewhere, we'll be paid for it.
Art

BalletPSM

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Re: Copyright laws
« Reply #9 on: Aug 23, 2006, 08:25 am »
Agree with Art -- you can't just tape for archival purposes without actually obtaining permission from all involved parties -- primarily, the publisher of the work.

E.G., when we do a ballet to music by a living composer, we have to obtain permission from them as well -- and most of the time they will request a copy for their archives as well.  Likewise with pieces by a guest choreographer; we have to get their permission, they want a video...etc. etc....sometimes I'll have to make 4 or 5 copies of our "archival" video after a performance because of all the parties that have to get one.

And in all of this, I have to submit a request to the symphony in writing asking THEIR permission to tape our ballets and have to detail all of these reasons why.  Of course, anything with the symphony can ONLY be used for archival purposes, never for publicity (not even 30s spots).  And there's the IA rules...if we tape anything that will get aired or sold in any way, the entire crew that was on the call at that time(s) gets double time for pay for all hours anything was being taped...yikes.

Crazy...but as long as you follow the rules and cover your bases with everything, you should be fine.  If you are suspicious or just don't feel quite right about anything a theatre or producer asks you to do or distribute, make sure to check it out more thoroughly.
« Last Edit: Aug 23, 2006, 08:30 am by BalletPSM »
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Mac Calder

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Re: Copyright laws
« Reply #10 on: Aug 23, 2006, 04:59 pm »
If in doubt, don't.

I think that is the best piece of advice that can be given. Copyright law is a legal minefield, using a lot of phrases like "Reasonable use" - which tend to be very open ended. If you really need an archival tape, talk to either your union legal representative or a copyright lawyer.

A lot of theatres do create "Archival Tapes" and just hope the old addage "What they don't know can't hurt them" plays true.

I do believe though that you can legally tape the show to use as actor development material - provided that at any one time, there is only ONE copy and it is kept within the company/theatre, however I was under the impression that the tapes had to be wiped at the end of the show. I believe there is precedent (at least in Australia) that it is "Reasonable" use of your rights.

What I wish someone would do would be to publish a "Laymans guide to rights within the theatre" which basically contained all the major contracts, publishers policies etc all summarised into sections, so you could flip to "Recording" and find out exactly when you could legaly do it. A bible if ever one was to be written.

Balletdork

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Re: Copyright laws
« Reply #11 on: Sep 16, 2006, 08:03 pm »
In the ballet these days all of our archival photos are taken outside of a rehearsal or performance- on the stage w/ full set & costumes, but not in rehearsal- the symphony has a fit!

Actually, our symphony freaked when our photographer took digital photos! I guess there's some way to record digitally? - I'm not tech-minded enough.

Most of our choreographers are cool w/ archival recordings- they usually want a copy, but they never flatly object.

Also, w/ my smooth talking ways I've managed to get the Balanchine Trust to waive fees and make allowances for archival recordings and tv spots etc...

fuzzy_7

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Re: Copyright laws
« Reply #12 on: Sep 18, 2006, 07:36 am »
The Legal response is that only the writer, composer, lyricist, and rightholders (all together) can approve recordings in any format. The reason being that a horrible recording could make a bad name for any or all of the above. Permission must be obtained in writing from all of the above (usually the rightholding company can give you permission on behalf of the others), otherwise you are in direct violation of copyright law.
Derek A. Fuzzell

fuzzy_7

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Re: Copyright laws
« Reply #13 on: Sep 25, 2006, 03:36 am »
Oh yeah,
On photocopying scripts you are supposed to pay for another script use for each additional copy. Usually an SM can make prompt, blocking, etc. copies without having to pay.
Derek A. Fuzzell

Erin_Candice

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Re: Copyright laws
« Reply #14 on: Jan 05, 2007, 08:26 pm »
So I did a little more research and finally came up with a few answers.  You cannot legally record a musical owned by MTI (EX: Annie, The Full Monty, She Loves Me, and most other American musicals that are not new works).  As for other companies, I don't know their rules, but I think AEA has an agreement with them concerning archival and promo tapes.  According to MTI, EVERYONE involved in the taping of a performance- from the producer to the deck crew- can be extensively fined if MTI finds out.  So even if you do what AEA says, MTI can still take legal action and you should care.  Most theatres do make archival tapes that only see the light of day if they are planning to re-mount a production, otherwise they are locked up.  We ended up not taping any performances, which made me happy since the director and the music director were HIGHLY against it.  The actor, with a very hurt ego, blamed me for thwarting all his good intentions, refused to participate in photo call, told me everyone else does it, and made an argument that came down to "it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission" a month later on my patio.  I sipped my beer and smiled.  Because sometimes it's just easier to keep your mouth shut.

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