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<big>Great news - the Martha Graham Center wins the appeal concerning their ownership of the bulk of the Graham repertory.</big>
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 18, 2004.
APPELLATE COURT RULES IN MARTHA GRAHAM CASE
Fourth decision in long legal battle over the late choreographer’s work overwhelmingly affirms ownership by the organizations that she created
The Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance is pleased to announce that the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit today overwhelmingly affirmed the United States District Court’s rulings regarding the Center’s ownership of dances choreographed by Martha Graham along with related sets and costumes.
The Appellate Court affirmed the trial court’s findings that Martha Graham assigned all of the dances created before 1956 to the Center. The Court also found that Martha Graham was an employee of the Center and that works created between 1966 and her death in 1991 were works-for-hire. The Court remanded seven dances to the district court for further findings questioning Graham’s job responsibilities. The Martha Graham Center for Contemporary Dance, with its legal team at Cravath Swaine & Moore, led by Katherine B. Forrest, Esq., and Joanne M. Gentile, Esq., believes it has ample proof of its ownership to satisfy the District Court with respect to these seven dances.
The remainder of the Court’s findings -- that Ron Protas breached his fiduciary duty to the Center and owes damages for licensing fees he inappropriately pocketed, and that the sets and costumes are owned by the Center -- were also affirmed. With respect to the breach of fiduciary duty the court stated, “There was evidence that Protas ignored questions that surfaced from several sources about his ownership of the dances, sets, and costumes, and made assertions regarding ownership of these items to the Center’s board of directors and to third parties. These assertions were, at best, irresponsibly made, and, at worst, intentionally misleading.” The panel of Judges (Newman, Kearse and Pooler) who rendered this decision all have extensive expertise in the area of intellectual property.
Marvin Preston, Executive Director of the Center stated, “We are extremely pleased with the Court’s decision. It confirms what we have always known, that Martha Graham built this organization to preserve and carry forward her
legacy in dance. Fortunately, our day-to-day focus has not been on legal issues: we have been dancing, and dancing to great acclaim. Our goal has always been to keep this great art alive.
“The world is indebted to our Board of Trustees – in particular, Delores Barr Weaver, Inger Witter, Francis Mason, and Judith Schlosser, who supported the Center through its most difficult times with donations and loans – and to the intrepid employees and patient suppliers of the Martha Graham Center and School. We also acknowledge with deep gratitude the organizations that showed their confidence in us through major support of our efforts through these recent years of legal and financial challenges: The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, New York Community Trust, American Music Center, New York Times Company Foundation, Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, The Dana Foundation, Ernst & Young, the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.”
“We look forward to dancing Martha’s work for audiences worldwide, forever.”
The Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance keeps vital and builds upon the work of Martha Graham by: performing Martha Graham’s ballets in authentic ways; teaching the dance vocabulary of Martha Graham; preserving, documenting and sharing Martha Graham’s historical legacy; generating new theatrical experiences and artistic resources; and creating and cultivating audiences moved by the evolving Martha Graham art form.
<small>[ 18 August 2004, 05:32 PM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>