Saturday, February 18, 2006

Grease, Copyright and Theater

NYTimes features a story about one of the creators of the musical "Grease" and his fight with some of the world's largest cruise ship companies - the accusation is of piracy, (no, not the yo ho ho and a bottle of run kind) the cruise lines are staging the musical without obtaining rights or paying royalties. The cruise line has even admitted that they have staged the show 360+ times, but since they were out in the middle of the ocean, US Copyright does not apply ... Which sounds more like the philosophical question "if a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a noise"

The cruise line's main argument seems to be a little weak in my opinion. If someone murders someone else in the middle of the ocean, does that mean that they can't be tried because laws don't apply? I don't see how copyright would be any different, just less violent.

One of the creators of the Broadway musical "Grease," Jim Jacobs, is accusing the world's biggest cruise lines of piracy, contending that they have been staging his play and others at sea for years without permission.

Crews of actors have entertained passengers afloat hundreds, maybe thousands, of times by donning poodle skirts and leather jackets and belting out "Summer Nights," Mr. Jacobs said. But neither he nor the estate of his collaborator, Warren Casey, who died in 1988, has received royalties, he said.


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