Enjoyed your response P. M


Enjoyed your response P. My primary experience has been to request a copy of the production papers the organization has on file, received from the copyright resources involved with their intended production, or read for myself the small print listing where to find and how to get in touch with the copyright holders of the materials.

When the organization has actually inquired, followed through and received reproduction and limited distribution/sales permission from the copyright management firm, it will be so stated. As will, and are, the expression of limitations listed on the script, screen play, music printouts, art, etc, accompanying their files. When it seemed practical to do so I have contacted various (many of these have a central clearing house, if you will, for handing copyright release information and assignment) entities listed on the papers and inquired as to what is possible, costs, special considerations, etc.

Success rate for permissions at no cost, reasonable cost, or for “educational purposes only” etc. is less than 25 percent, I have to admit. In my experience about one in ten (maybe) performance groups have inquired, received and/or paid for signed release for some aspect of reproduction rights – video or audio. They are to be commended. The vast majority, however, purchase one screenplay copy, one set of music score sheets and/or the words, then copied and distributed them to the participants, not fully realizing or understanding (I want to believe) that this too is a copyright infringement – usually. I am sure there are many who elect to remain ignorant of the law and simply go forth with their production plans.

There is usually available to schools, community theaters and other organizations, however, a central agency to whom they can turn for a blanket performance release, or small fee signed permission, or sometimes even a broader release allowing, as I’ve mentioned before, recording, reproduciton and limited distribution of the performances on some basis – numbers, etc.

Then, on the other hand, there are many, MANY times when it simply is not worth the time, effort or anticipated return, and I just inform the group or organization that their understanding of what constitutes copyright infringement and mine are not a good way to proceed, and wish them success in their efforts.

What continues to amaze me is that so many individuals in this business continue to try and find a loophole, break, or legal runaround in copyright infringement law that will allow them to ignore, benefit from, or unabashedly deny wrong-doing. Once again, without judgement for or against, use of ANY copyright material created by another artist or owned by another organization in a production intended for personal/private use/viewing, or duplication, distribution and sales, or public presentation in an open, free or admission-charged environment, is a direct violation of copyright law.

I do not condemn people who have done so because at one time or another anyone in the business has done so. I do not agree with ALL aspects of copyright law as it pertains to certain issues. But those issues have been debated, grilled, rolled over and questioned time and again to no currently answerable degree that makes it OK or NoKay, and I do not intend to get caught up in yet another debate on that. Countless articles have been written, published and read. Numerous attorneys “in the know” have commented to the nth degree. Any number of resources are available for the research thereof. I have MY opinion, and will not expound on the righteousness thereof.

Like so many other questions of legal, moral or personal integrity on this planet, it is up to the individual to decide his/her approach and actions. I am not an enforcer, an informer, or whistle-blower. I am not a saint or sadist, morally uncorruptable or heaven sent. I do not belong to any law enforcement, legal jurisdiction or government agency, and prefer when possible to, do no harm to others. I will keep my righteous indignation, professional abhorence and personal prejudices to myself. Daba, daba, dats all folks.

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