Donalda McCarthy posted this intriguing question on our Facebook page:
Should Choreographers copyright their work? Discuss.
i.e. If a high school does a musical and pays the playwright royalties to use their book, then they get all their ‘ography off of YouTube, should the choreographer, equally an artist, also receive a Royalty payment?
Before I answer, let me point out that I’m not a lawyer, this isn’t legal advice.
My instinct was that of course the choreographer should receive payment if you’re using their work. After all, they’re artistic creators just like writers, actors, directors, musicians, etc.
But I did a little bit of digging around and was quite surprised to learn that the law isn’t very well-defined on the subject of choreography and copyright.
If you want to learn a bit more, here are some resources I found:
- So You Think You Can Steal My Dance? Copyright Protection in Choreography
- Copyright and Choreography: What Constitutes Fixation?
- “Urinetown” Creators Get Pissy about Midwest Productions
If you want to be safe then I really don’t think it’s a good idea to steal someone else’s choreography.
And at the end of the day, I’m confused as to why someone would want to use someone else’s choreography anyway. What’s the joy in that? What’s the point in being a choreographer if you don’t want to create choreography?