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 Post subject: Are there reasons to break copyright?
PostPosted: Sat Nov 19, 2005 6:57 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 19975
Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Artists tend to be under-rewarded. So, copyright is VERY important to help ensure they are rewarded for their labours. As m'legal friends say, for the avoidance of doubt, we take copyright issues very seriously here on CriticalDance and move quickly if we suspect there is a breach anywhere on the site.

However, two examples make me wonder whether there is a "greater good" argument that can prevail over copyright:

1. In our topic about "ballet russes", Glebb wrote:

Quote:
Final thank you to Ann Barzel, the Chicago dance critic who sneaked her camera into the theatre and captured so many rare clips (deMille in Rodeo, Cotillion and many more) of ballets.


Thus, by breaching copyright, Barzel has provided the only record (I believe) of some crucially important early ballet Americana.

2. Copying videos:

David Bintley, AD of Birmingham Royal Ballet loves people to copy recordings of his company shown on TV - he sees them as an excellent and free form of publicity for his company.

What do you think?


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 19, 2005 7:47 am 
Were Ms. Barzel's actions in violation of the copyright laws of the time? It's my recollection that the statutes were only recently (relatively) extended to cover choreography.

Nevertheless, that's a narrow legality. It may well be that she obeyed the letter of the law while violating its spirit.

At this point, it's moot, isn't it? Much like someone's transcribing one of Churchill's speeches?

How were the images used during the years immediately after they were recorded?


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 19, 2005 7:50 am 
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Mr. Bintley may well find the videos helpful (and the fact that they're of his own company does muddy the waters a bit) but the copyright laws don't make exceptions based on the fact that one reallyreallyreally wants to.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 19, 2005 12:47 pm 
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Sure, Tom, but we are not talking about legality, that is clear. The question is can the breach of copyright law be justified in examples like the ones above or in other cases?


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 19, 2005 3:54 pm 
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This looks like a footnote to the larger discussion of copyright and patents going on in the tech community these days. Copyright was originally intended to promote the greater good --- with the argument that people would not create content if they could not have certain exclusive rights over it.

But those rights are not all-encompassing and never have been --- if you have a copyrighted book or movie, you are allowed to copy it for your own use, sell it, lend it out, show it to your friends, etc. You are even allowed to copy a CD and give the copy to your friends (but not random "acquaintences" you meet on Napster)!

The ideas historically was to balance the rights of the content creator with the rights of the larger society.

Recently, there is a feeling that copyright has gone too far. For example, although it was created in the middle of the 19th Century, the "Happy Birthday" song is STILL under copyright --- and that franchise generates $3m per year, mosty by sic-ing lawyers on Hollywood whenever anyone wants to use Happy Birthday in a movie. It's hard to make a case that this is compensating anyone for their hard work, instead it is freeloading off the fact that we all like to sing the song at Birthdays, that in a very real way, the song has become part of our culture.

Similarly, Disney (and others) have repeatedly lobbied for the extension of copyright term lengths --- had it not been for a recent such extension, Snow White would now be in the public domain. I don't see how this extension benefitted our society either --- such is the power of corporate entertainment these days.

The Civil Rights documentary "Eyes on the Prize" is another example of copyright gone awry. It is considered one of the best and most important films on the civil rights era. Unfortunately, it will never come out on DVD --- many of the songs sung at the protest marches, etc, were actually copyrighted. So when documentary filmmakers filmed crowds of people singing those songs and made a movie out of it, they were technically violating copyright. Once the importance of the film became recognized, the copyright holders sought to profit off of it, and PBS (the owner) simply did not have the money to pay up. Hence, no "Eyes on the Prize" DVD release, an important film is in danger of being buried. The idea that these people would try to profit off of the civil rights era in that way is simply despicable.

Then there are all the books that are still under copyright, but have gone out of print --- WAY out of print. In many cases, if no one copies them, we will lose them, given the extreme length of copyright terms these days.

Another example is the DMCA law --- which makes it illegal to break a technical scheme designed to protect digital content, even if you're not breaking copyright law in doing so. For example, if you copy a DVD for your own personal use, or if you quote a short excerpt from it --- things that have ALWAYS been legal in the past under the fair use doctrine --- you could now go to jail. The DMCA came to head recently when Sony shipped millions of pieces of Spyware on their "copy protected" CDs. Unwitting users who installed this spyware on their computers --- and the spyware is quite damaging --- could now be in violation of the DMCA if they remove it from their computers.

Because of these issues (and they are only a few), there is a growing feeling that copyright laws need a major revision. The fact of the matter is, once you present a creative work in public, you do not own it 100% anymore --- others can and will do new and different things with it. Balancing your rights (and desires) for control with the larger society's rights is the problem at hand.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2005 5:05 am 
for many many years ann barzel's films were known only to and held only by ann barzel. now they exist in two places, the newberry library in chicago and the library for the performing arts in new york. additionally ann barzel herself told me that the companies knew she was making the films. she made them with a pretty hefty camera and some were taken from backstage so even a tiny lady like her would have been pretty obvious! also a distinguished librarian advised me that a number of things contribute to keeping them in libraries. there is no music on them. so no musicians' union would protest. in many cases they are the only record of some of the ballets contained on them. they are identifiable by content but not by venue. i am sure that the copyright laws etc were not the same then but this is what a librarian told me. as far as i know, the only time anyone saw them is when miss barzel would bring a few to ballet schools to use in lectures she gave or something similar. i hope this information is helpful ;)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2005 5:06 am 
to add to the above, 'the only time anyone saw them' should probably read 'before they were given to the libraries, the only time anyone saw them'...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2005 1:50 pm 
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Posts: 17498
Location: SF Bay Area
Do you know that Benjamin Franklin did not copyright any of his inventions? Can you imagine what would have happened if he did? Besides being a founding father of the United States and a discoverer of electricity, he also made numerous inventions of which the following is only a small sample:

1. The lightning rod (practically every house and every building today has one to prevent fire damage from lightning);

2. The bifocals;

3. The flexible urinary catheter (his brother suffered from kidney stones);

4. The iron furnace stove (which is still called the Franklin stove);

5. The odometer;

6. Swimming flippers;

7. The borrowing library;

8. The US post office system;

9. Fire insurance (to help fire victims get back on their feet).

None of the above was copyrighted or trademarked.

Similary, Apple Computer hired Niklaus Wirth to develop Object Pascal to teach object-oriented programming and Sun Microsystems developed JAVA for use on the internet -- both these languages were developed from the greater good and are not copyrighted (try telling Microsoft that!).

When it comes to copyrighting a work of art, it becomes really difficult to come up with a process that's conclusive. So much of art is inspired by what came before it -- where do you draw the line. I would argue that architecture can be a form of art as well but do you see architects complaining about their designs being copied. No. In fact, it's a form of flattery and a mark of greatness. The value of the architect is what s/he brings in the form of talent, ideas, experience, education, and know-how; not the actual product etc. If composers can demand a fee everytime a piece of music is played, then can architects be allowed to charge musicians everytime the music is played in a building whose style of architecure has been copyrighted?

Now I understand choreographers live off royalties for ballets they create. But are we sympathetic to that only because the choreographers need the money? Even so, the system has gone awry here too. When a ballet is commissioned by the company or a patron, why does the choreographer still have rights to the work? In almost any other environment, the intellectual and creative property is owned by the employer or the commissioner. And why does the choregrapher have the final say when there are also other designers in the process? Is this because it's the way we've all been bullied into thinking generation after generation? As evidenced by the Martha Graham case, there is a compelling thought that the Balanchine trust really doesn't have a legal leg to stand on -- but of course no one would dare challenge their authority with an attorney at their helm and a network of mutual support among a close-knit community (we've got people setting Balanchine ballets that have never danced them!).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2005 12:08 am 
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Joined: Sun Dec 12, 1999 12:01 am
Posts: 3663
Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
Google is involved in a similar controversy.

From NPR's All Things Considered:

Quote:
All Things Considered, November 20, 2005 · Debbie Elliott and New York Times Magazine ethicist Randy Cohen examine the dilemma that search engine Google poses with its Google Book Search tool. The powerful software can scan whole sections of books for reading online, raising questions of copyright infringement.


To listen to the conversation, click here.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2005 12:19 am 
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As evidenced by the Martha Graham case, there is a compelling thought that the Balanchine trust really doesn't have a legal leg to stand on


There are some differences.

In the Graham case, the court found not that the dances were in the public domain but that they weren't owned by Ron Protas since Graham had, in her lifetime, signed them over to the dance company that bears her name.

It's still illegal for someone -- say you or me -- to perform them without authorization (well, most of them. I believe that the court did rule that a couple were now in the public domain); all the court did was to clarify who's legally able to grant such permission.


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