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 Post subject: Graham Center wins case for ownership of the dances
PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2002 6:01 pm 
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<CENTER> <img src="http://www.criticaldance.com/images/Graham-Leibovitz.jpg" alt="" />

<big>REJOICE</BIG></CENTER>

Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum has found in favour of the Martha Graham Center in this landmark case. Here is the key extract:

Quote:
….the Martha Graham Center owns the overwhelming majority of Martha Graham's dances: the Center (Defendant) owns fifty-four works; 10 works are in the public domain; 5 works are owned by commissioning entities; and the Plaintiff (Mr. Protas) has been declared owner of one dance.
It would not be surprising to me if there was an appeal, but for the present, this is a time for rejoicing that the Graham legacy is in safe hands.

Here is the full Press Release from our friends at the Center. Other media outlets feel free to copy:

Martha Graham
Center of Contemporary Dance


PRESS RELEASE

August 23, 2002 (New York, NY)— The Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance is pleased to announce that a Court decision has been issued today establishing the ownership of the choreography created by Martha Graham and related sets and costumes. The Honorable Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum of the Southern District of New York issued a decision confirming that the Martha Graham Center owns the overwhelming majority of Martha Graham's dances: the Center (Defendant) owns fifty-four works; 10 works are in the public domain; 5 works are owned by commissioning entities; and the Plaintiff (Mr. Protas) has been declared owner of one dance.

The 110-page decision confirms that Martha Graham assigned the majority of her choreographic works to the Center and that the bulk of those remaining were created by Martha Graham as an employee of the Center which she herself created.

While the Board of Trustees of the Center is pleased with this decision, it is important to note that dance companies can and do make arrangements with choreographers establishing that ownership of the dance(s) created by the choreographer resides with the choreographer. George Balanchine and other choreographers made such arrangements. Martha Graham chose not to.

Five of the dances were commissioned by third parties in or prior to the 1950s. As to those commissioned-dances the Court indicated that the third parties may have some rights. The decision details the extensive documentary evidence and testimony of more than a dozen witnesses supporting the Center's ownership. Indeed The Court found that Mr. Protas' own lawyer had elicited testimony from a former Board member confirming the Center's ownership.

The Court also found, as argued by the Center, that ten of the 70 dances at issue have now entered the public domain in the United States (the sets and costumes relating to these works were found to be owned by the Center). The Martha Graham Center is very pleased that the ten dances found to be in the public domain will be available to the public for study and performance.

The decision also recognized that Martha Graham either assigned all of her theatrical properties (including sets and costumes) to the Center or that the Center otherwise paid for those sets and costumes.

The Court also found that Ronald Protas had a technical "renewal right to the copyright" of a single dance. The Court found, however, that the Center owns the set for that dance.

The Court stated that "After listening to [Mr. Protas] evasive and inconsistent testimony and observing his demeanor" it found that he was not a credible witness. The Court also found that Mr. Protas "profited improperly at the defendants' expense and did not act 'with an eye single to the interests' of the defendants to whom he owed a fiduciary duty." Finally, the Court stated that in Mr. Protas' "desire to undermine the Center's ownership of the works, sets and costumes, Protas did not accurately inform the Board of the underlying facts."

The Court awarded the Center more than $240,000 for Mr. Protas' improper licensing of works actually owned by the Center and for selling the Center's property to the Library of Congress.

Francis Mason, Chairman of the Board of the Martha Graham Center stated: "We rejoice in Judge Cedarbaum's decision confirming our ownership or the public's ownership of the choreography created by Martha Graham as well as that the Center owns all sets and costumes. This decision is particularly timely in light of our impending move back to Martha and the School's old premises that have now been completely renovated. We have an exciting two-week season commencing at the Joyce Theatre on January 21, 2003 and could not be happier to put this very difficult chapter behind us."

A copy of the decision can be found at http://home.earthlink.net/~gsmltd/default.htm

<small>[ 08-23-2002, 20:20: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Graham Center wins case for ownership of the dances
PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2002 6:14 pm 
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Wow! This is so strongly vindicates the Graham Center. And I am in agreement with you, Stuart. I would not be surprised to see an appeal.

Also, I am intrigued by the 10 works in the public domain. Maybe, Tadej or Dean might care to talk about that.


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 Post subject: Re: Graham Center wins case for ownership of the dances
PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2002 7:07 pm 
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Jennifer Dunning writes in the Ny Times:

Quote:
A federal district court judge ruled yesterday that the Martha Graham Dance Company has the rights to virtually all of the choreographer's works. The decision is a sweeping victory for the center in its protracted battle with Ronald Protas, Graham's heir.

Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum, sitting in Manhattan, determined that the company's parent organization, the Martha Graham Dance Center, owns the rights to 45 of Graham's dances, with an additional 10 in the public domain because of public access to them through films and videos.
Click for More


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 Post subject: Re: Graham Center wins case for ownership of the dances
PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2002 3:51 am 
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Hurray! :)

Although, I'd like to know how Judge Cedarbaum came to the conclusion that Protas owned the rights to something as beautiful as "Seraphic Dialogue", and exactly which dances are now in the public domain.


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 Post subject: Re: Graham Center wins case for ownership of the dances
PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2002 4:20 am 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
From the Los Angeles Times:

Martha Graham Dance Center Wins Custody Battle
Court: A federal judge rules company, not heir of choreography icon, owns landmark works.



By LEWIS SEGAL, TIMES STAFF WRITER

Quote:
A U.S. District Court judge on Friday awarded ownership of the bulk of the choreography by modern dance icon Martha Graham to the Martha Graham Dance Center, rather than to her heir, Ron Protas.

Until 2000, Protas served on the board of the center and as artistic director of the Martha Graham Dance Company, one of the institutions the center administered. After Protas was voted off the board and removed as artistic director, the center voted to close the school and company, citing financial difficulties. Protas sued to prevent the center's use of the Graham name as they planned to rebuild. That suit was decided against Protas, a decision that was upheld in July by an appeals court.
MORE...


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 Post subject: Re: Graham Center wins case for ownership of the dances
PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2002 9:51 am 
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A detailed report in The Dance Insider:
http://www.danceinsider.com/f2002/f0824_1.html


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 Post subject: Re: Graham Center wins case for ownership of the dances
PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2002 2:47 am 
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Thanks for the link Malcolm. Dance Insider has done an exemplary job covering the Graham dispute over the past two years.

Here is the link to our earlier topic on the legal dispute:

http://forum.criticaldance.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=3;t=000387

And there's a good article giving an overview of the dispute by Brendan McCarthy on ballet.co:

http://www.ballet.co.uk/magazines/yr_02/apr02/bmc_martha_graham.htm

<small>[ 08-27-2002, 22:32: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Graham Center wins case for ownership of the dances
PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2002 12:02 pm 
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I am ecstatic!!! Yeeehhaaaa! "Not a credible witness" indeed! I have a question about the ten works that are in the public domain. What exactly does that mean? Does that mean that Dolly Dinkle's Dance Studio can re-stage "Diversion of Angels" from a video? Anybody know the legal ramifications of that? Also, since Protas owns "Seraphic Dialogue" and the center owns the set and costumes, how would that work? Would they rent it to him, I guess?


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 Post subject: Re: Graham Center wins case for ownership of the dances
PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2002 1:07 pm 
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Public domain means that anyone can use the work for any purpose. That includes our beloved Ms. Dinkle.

Does the center own the intellectual property rights to the costumes (i.e. the design), or just the physical costumes themselves?

I suppose Protas could always choose to stage Seraphic Dialog with costumes that do not infringe on the Graham Center's rights, thereby avoiding any need to deal with the Graham Center.

Remember also that Protas WILL appeal. This is a great victory, BUT.... it's not over until the Fat Lady sings.


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 Post subject: Re: Graham Center wins case for ownership of the dances
PostPosted: Tue Aug 27, 2002 3:52 am 
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The question remains who would actually set "Seraphic Dialogue". As far as I know the Associate Artistic Directors of the Company and other previous dancers are the ones who have set the works since the death of Martha Graham.

<small>[ 08-27-2002, 05:52: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Graham Center wins case for ownership of the dances
PostPosted: Tue Aug 27, 2002 7:24 pm 
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Quote:
Judge: Dances Belong to Graham Center

By The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) - A federal judge has ruled that the majority of dances that modern dance legend Martha Graham created belong to the Martha Graham Dance Center, dealing the second blow in as many months to Graham's heir. more


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 Post subject: Re: Graham Center wins case for ownership of the dances
PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2002 7:44 pm 
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In Backstage.com:

Quote:
Court Awards Graham Dances

Score it Martha Graham Dance Center 45, Ronald A. Protas 1, up in the air 24, and public domain 10. more


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 Post subject: Re: Graham Center wins case for ownership of the dances
PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2002 8:35 pm 
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There is one point in this story and elsewhere in the newspaper coverage which does not ring true for me.

Quote:
...the board had grown sufficiently tired of him to vote for his removal in March 2000.
When the MGDC came to London in 1999, Mr Protas said then that he was stepping down and would devote his time to archiving work on the Graham material. Janet Eilber was appointed as the new AD and all seemed to be moving ahead for her to come some 12-15 months later, from memory. My impression was that the dancers were counting the days.

Then Mr Protas had second thoughts and decided that he had lost confidence in Ms Eilber and decided that he could not pass the Company over to her. He then asked the Board to re-instate him as AD and they decided that that was not in the best interests of the Company. It was then that Protas withdrew his permission for the MGDC to perform the work.

The abbreviated version of the story gives the impression that it was the MGDC Board that precipitated the crisis. In fact everyone had done their best to respect the wishes of Martha Graham and Mr Protas had the chance to withdraw gracefully as an honoured toiler for the Graham cause.

<small>[ 08-30-2002, 22:36: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Graham Center wins case for ownership of the dances
PostPosted: Sat Aug 31, 2002 2:39 am 
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i can't even begin to express how thrilling this news was for me - i know they must be bouncing off the walls with joy at the graham school


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 Post subject: Re: Graham Center wins case for ownership of the dances
PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2002 7:28 pm 
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Does anyone know if and when the Graham company will begin touring and performing regularly?

It's great that Protas, as of now, does not have control over all of the repertory.


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