Thursday, February 02, 2006

Copyright and Directing

The NYTimes ran a really interesting (and potentially scary) article about a play that was arguably very messed up to begin with - the story doesn't really touch on what happened, but gives the feel of a "he said she said" argument. Where the Director (that got fired) is suing claiming that his work on the play (staging etc.) "constitutes a copyrighted work of intellectual property, owned by him, and that the defendants must therefore pay for infringing the copyright." the other side claims they removed all of his 'influences' from the show. Link
Trial is scheduled for this April.

First there is the issue of the copyright - is the staging work a director does really copyright worthy? The US Copyright office defines copyright as "a document granting exclusive right to publish and sell literary or musical or artistic work" So first there must be some documentation to prove these ideas are the Directors 'work' and since they are based off of the play itself is it really original? Although Directors put an enormous amount of time and effort into their work, I don't believe it qualifies for a copyright.

Secondly if it is copyright worthy, does it actually supersede the rights of the playwright? Since there would be no play or musical without the playwright - I think that even in the case of the Director's work being copyright worthy, that of the playwright should take precedence.

Last of all what kind of an effect will this case have on community theater?

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