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Youtube keeps the bonfire...claiming another victim-(the Powers that Be probably involved again)


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62 replies to this topic

#31 Helene

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 11:07 AM

There are several dozen excerpts and full Balanchine ballets published commercially on DVD, and a number more can be gleaned on commercial VHS tapes. In addition, it's pretty much a no-brainer for someone in a ballet company to track down a copy of someone's tape/DVD of "Live from Lincoln Center" or "Dance in America" performances of works for which there is not a commercial version. (Mozartiana, Vienna Waltzes, Liebeslieder excerpts, the complete Who Cares? for example). How could the Trust not know when Balanchine is performed without official permission in the age of the Internet? They have the legal means to stomp with big financial boots, and that assumes there is no leak from rehearsals from which they could shut down the production before it is performed.

If anything, having a YouTube performance by a company who had an official staging on the record would allow the audience to see whether an unofficial production had anything to do with the work.

#32 dirac

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 11:21 AM

Of course I still wish to go to the live performances, and see different dancers,
But I will still purchase DVD's.CD's Books and Magazines.


Many people won't, though. If they can get it for nothing, even if the product is somewhat compromised, they will. I think eventually an arrangement will be reached where people will be able to pay a fee online to see performances and clips.

#33 bart

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 11:57 AM

I think eventually an arrangement will be reached where people will be able to pay a fee online to see performances and clips.

Could the "Classical TV" model -- linked by Lucy in our curren thread of William Forstythe -- be a model for this? Or something like it?
http://ballettalk.in...p...c=30449&hl=

If so, the scale would have to be much smaller -- and the product quite different -- from the more populist and spontaneous environment of YouTube.I'd imagine that the system for organizing permissions and royalties would get rather complicated.

#34 SandyMcKean

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 12:15 PM

But surely such companies would have to advertise their illlicit performances. What they were doing would quickly become public knowledge in the relatively small and interconnected dance community. Wouldn't THAT be the point at which the Trust should step in?

Is there anyone out there who has studied Balanchine's life enough to feel relatively comfortable (come on, take a risk! :wink:) speculating what Mr B himself might say about this issue if he were here today?

In my limited reading of his life, it strikes me that he did not feel possessive about his ballets, altho he would certainly have wanted them to be performed well.

#35 Jack Reed

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 12:50 PM

I believe he tended to give away his ballets (even loaning costumes) to companies he thought would do them justice and which could use them to good advantage in developing their dancers and their repertory -- some of the same purposes he had, although I've also heard it said that he gave permission rather than selling it so he could withdraw it if he was disappointed with the results. Some of his oldest ballets, like Apollo, he could no longer control, his rights having expired, although if he saw a performance -- maybe in studio -- he'd be allowed to adjust it as a courtesy. (His influence was widely felt. Recall that when he fired Farrell and Mejia, they had a hard time finding any company to hire them, presumably so as not to incur his, um, disfavor.)

Nowadays I gather the Trust sells performance licenses to perform for a limited time, say, two years.

In a possibly related context, I think some inventors do not patent their inventions because they can lose those rights if they don't defend them when they're violated, and lone inventors lack the resources to fight a large corporation. Here we're talking about copyright, not quite the same thing, but it might explain why the Balanchine Trust is fairly aggressive about maintaining control -- maybe the law says if you let it slip, you can't get it back. But this attempt to reason by analogy goes nowhere toward explaining the differences among different organizations. (There's been a complete Robbins Afternoon of a Faun with Farrell and Mofid up on an Iranian culture site for some time, for example, and a nearly-complete Cunningham Pond Way has been up for a couple of years.)

As for stepping in when a bootleg performance becomes public knowledge, how are they going act? Lawsuits cost money and sometimes breed ill will, to say the least. Or are you thinking of the deterrent effect of that possibility? I think that may be part of their game plan already.

#36 Dale

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 12:58 PM

The Balanchine Trust doesn't even like George Balanchine's ballets to be broadcast in their entirety. Look at most of the last broadcasts of his work: 1993 Balanchine Celebration - only Scherzo a la Russe was complete. Same thing with the 2004 broadcast. And Bringing Balanchine Back - just snips. Even when the DVD of POB's Jewels was broadcast, there was a chunk of Emeralds removed. DVDs of Royal Ballet programs with his work had the piece removed when released. Yet they approved of La Scala's inexplicable release of Midsummer Night's Dream. That's what they want to be representative of that work? On the whole, I'm very, very grateful for The Trust, but I think they are a little blind with regard to promoting his work via video and emerging/current technology. And by promoting dance, I mean more than a little snip shot from the wings like we get from NYCB's YouTube offerings.

#37 Jack Reed

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 01:15 PM

The fragmentary exposure you describe is distressing, Dale, but are you sure about attributing motivation to the Trust and not to, say, NYCB's AD or some other agent? I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm just curious. And it occurs to me that La Scala is in a country which seems to have more porous restrictions than we do here.

But I also recall, persuant to Sandy's question, that during Mr. B's time, if I heard correctly, SAB students who performed in Workshop could get tape of their performances, including of Balanchine, but not since his death.

By the way, bart, I'm going to pass being part of that consensus, for now! I just don't understand this situation well enough to take a position yet.

#38 canbelto

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 02:50 PM

It's ironic because Mr. B was one of the few dancemakers of his generation (or before his generation) who did not have a knee-jerk disfavor of any filmed ballet. Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham were of course strict about not even allowing performance photographs. Moira Shearer caught Ninette di Valois's permanent contempt because she appeared in some films. But Mr. B was not like that -- he even re-touched many of his ballets to suit television better.

#39 Jack Reed

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 04:00 PM

True enough, he did -- although at other moments he worried that people would think that the filmed version was the only true, correct one. The ideal answer to that for me would be to have several filmed versions of a given ballet, but he had to live with practical restraints, like cost.

#40 Ray

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 05:11 PM

The ideal answer to that for me would be to have several filmed versions of a given ballet [...]


Yes, as in music.

#41 Jack Reed

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Posted 17 October 2009 - 07:13 PM

There's something in today's Links regarding the law on this:

http://www.artsjourn...e-video_co.html

#42 bart

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Posted 18 October 2009 - 07:32 AM

Thanks, Jack, for that Link -- and to Helene for posting it originally. Apollinaire Scher's summary of some of the legal aspects are the clearest, most succinct, I've read. Everyone following this thread -- and interested in the topic of copyright, should read it. I'll just quote the part that refers to the Balanchine Trust

--In order to maintain their right to certain dances, organizations such as the Balanchine Trust have to enforce copyright protection. If they don't complain to YouTube, for example, about the Kirov clips of Balanchine works that Ketinoa put up, they're at risk of what's known as copyright abandonment, which means that when a real risk comes along (such as did with the Martha Graham company under Ron Protas), they've relinquished their legal right to prosecute.

This sets aside, of course, the larger question of how just how reasonable and fair current copyright law actually is. The exceptionally long life of copyright protection was never anticipated by those who first included it in British law and, later the U.S. constitution. Nor could they have imagined the lucrative and self-serving industry -- all those heirs, trusts, corporate entities, and law firms -- that has flourished around it.

#43 ltraiger

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Posted 18 October 2009 - 10:26 AM

For what it's worth, here is a link to the Dance Heritage Coalition's recent publication on Fair Use:

http://www.danceheritage.org/fairuse/

#44 MJ

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Posted 21 October 2009 - 08:12 PM

There are archival films at the New York Public library at Lincoln Center, but you need to be a researcher or choreographer to see them. The music industry (classical & opera) records many of their performances, yet Broadway and Ballet rarely do. The trusts and the repetiteurs would lose a important source of revenue.

#45 bart

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 08:22 AM

The trusts and the repetiteurs would lose a important source of revenue.

MJ, you have put into words something that is usually left unspoken. Thanks. It's not the whole story -- not by a long stretch -- but I have the suspicion that it plays a role. (It usually does when institutions work very hard to preserve a monopoly.)


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