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Intellectual Property dispute


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I realize this isn't dance, but somehow this didn't seem like it belonged in "other arts" because it's not really about music, it's about intellectual property rights. I wasn't sure it rated the news links since it wasn't about dance. I still think it belongs on this site because intellectual property rights often pertain to choreography and performance, and we should keep an eye one what is going on that-wise in other performing arts.

It happens to be political, but that is coincidental. I believe Philip Glass has a reputation for sueing unauthorized uses of his music.

Glass Sues Over "Celsius"

 

David N. Bossie, president of Citizens United, the conservative organization that produced "Celsius 41.11," said the music in the two advertisements was not by Mr. Glass but by Walter Heinisch, and had been properly licensed.

Mr. Glass's lawyer denied that assertion. "There is no question this is Philip Glass music," the lawyer, Timothy O'Donnell, said. "This is a signature piece by Philip Glass, this is a valuable piece of property."

The complaint says that the music is a 1987 composition by Mr. Glass, that it was the score for the film "Powaqqatsi," and that it has been licensed for use in trailers for eight films, including, Mr. O'Donnell said, "The Truman Show" and "The Hours." It was released on a 1988 Elektra Asylum/Nonesuch recording.

Mr. Bossie, whose organization's activities include running the project Citizens United for the Bush Agenda, argued that Mr. Glass was acting out of political motive, noting that he had written the music for "Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry," a film sympathetic to the Democratic presidential nominee.

"So clearly he is a Kerry supporter," Mr. Bossie said. "I believe maybe now, with his complaint, a little overzealous in his support."

Mr. O'Donnell said that Mr. Glass had made no secret of his opposition to President Bush, but that it was irrelevant.

"At issue here is an author's right to control how his or her artistic work is used," he said. "That is a right recognized in Article 1 of the United States Constitution. Philip Glass is passionately opposed to the agenda of this partisan organization and he does not want his music used to promote that agenda."

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We have had discussions on copyright issues before -- I think mostly in the "News, Events, and Issues" forum. Well, it's Glass' music, he's entitled.

David Bossie calling you politically overzealous is like a clock tower sniper saying you have anger management issues.

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Copyright and dance is such a twisty place. I can't look it up right now, but I remember reading at one point that Agnes de Mille was the first (one of the first) to copyright her choreography, and that the documentation she submitted was a scenario, a storyline (I think for dances from Oklahoma)

I know some choreographers have submitted Labanotation or Benesh Notation scores, and so that material is legally registered as theirs, but ownership is a sticky concept, especially when you are discussing a specific production of a classic work. Kent Stowell owns his production of Swan Lake, and Christopher Wheeldon probably owns his, but who knows who owns Swan Lake itself?

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. . . . [O]wnership is a sticky concept, especially when you are discussing a specific production of a classic work.  Kent Stowell owns his production of Swan Lake, and Christopher Wheeldon probably owns his, but who knows who owns Swan Lake itself?

Sticky indeed! Set and costume designs, sure. Original choreography and interpolations, no problem. What about the traditional, almost universal set pieces? In 2004, it's hard for anyone to argue that they own those! But at what point does a little tweaking of the Ivanov become a choreographer's "own" new version?

But back to the original topic, I think an artist should have the right to withhold the use of his or her work for any reason. I know it's not always possible, but I'm with Glass on this.

Nice analogy, Dirac! :)

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But anything created before 1926, with a few specialized exceptions (see some of Fokine) is usually public domain

How did Fokine get excepted? I thought he was one of those who felt particularly wronged by so many companies mounting his work without his permission... or was he just the first one to try to fight for his rights? How did that whole thing with ABT & the Cubans work out? Or was that La Sylphide?

I once heard Christopher d'Amboise in a pre-performance talk tell how Balanchine had offered his father the rights to "Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux" and that his dad, not quite realizing the full implications had sort of graciously demurred... (much to his son's chagrin).

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The issue of dance choreography ownership was recently brought up in the Protas vs the Graham Company debacle. While I don't want to get into the running (or running down) of the company by Protas, the bottom line was that she did leave her dances to him. The court rulling that her works were in essence works for hire and were owned by the company is an outrage. (I believe I got this right - any lawyers out there feel free to correct me). [Disclaimer - Protos was a colleger fraternity brother of mine, but I have only seen him once or twice in the past 41 years.]

Fortunately Balanchine I believe had clear ownership of his ballets - probably contractually with the company and so the Balanchine Trust (for most of his works) now can control them and see that they are properly performed. (Even if many critics of NYCB might feel otherwise....)

So as far as the Glass case goes I am 100% behind Glass.

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As I understand, the Trust was not a creation of Balanchine's will but a creation of a number of his heirs to handle the administrative details of mounting his ballets and collecting fees and royalties. The rights to individual ballets are owned by individual people.

Notoriously, John Taras, who had the rights to Symphony in C, did not participate in the Trust. I don't know if his heirs have opted in or not.

Barbara Horgan once spoke at an event and said that the deal with City Ballet's rights to perform the ballets fell outside the scope of the Trust. That, to me, explained much about the performance standards.

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As I recall generally about the Fokine Estate, before Vitale Mikhailovitch Fokine died, he had several of his stagings of various of his father's ballets (to which he held the rights), "The Dying Swan", "Firebird", "Petrouchka", "Spectre de la Rose" and maybe a couple others, filmed. After his death, his estate had these works copyrighted TO INCLUDE THE CHOREOGRAPHY AND TITLES. Previously, only the screenplays or shooting scripts were copyright.

Massine did the same thing with several of his ballets, I believe.

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The issue of dance choreography ownership was recently brought up in the Protas vs the Graham Company debacle.  While I don't want to get into the running (or running down) of the company by Protas, the bottom line was that she did leave her dances to him.  The court rulling that her works were in essence works for hire and were owned by the company is an outrage.  (I believe I got this right - any lawyers out there feel free to correct me).  [Disclaimer - Protos was a colleger fraternity brother of mine, but I have only seen him once or twice in the past 41 years.]

Also not wanting to get into a ruckus about Ron Protas here, one of the things that the situation with the Graham repertory taught everyone is to be more careful about the circumstances of your work, and to pay attention to the contract.

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As a relative newcomer to ballet, the issue of copyright is puzzling to me. What is the standard that is used to determine whether a work is new or simply a revival of a pre-existing work? Who verifies whether a work merits being copyrighted or not? And are there cases where copyright becomes an issue? How and when has/does this happen? What are the consequences for copyright violation in the dance world? And finally, is this a problem?

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