Let’s face it – there is a lot of videotaping going on out there in those school theatres. Search the title of any popular play on YouTube and you’ll see what I mean.
Unless the play is in the public domain, you need permission (usually from the publisher or the author, depending on a number of factors) to make those recordings. Otherwise, your recording is probably illegal.
I think most people know that it’s illegal, but the reason that publishers will look the other way or never notice in the first place. I always knew it was illegal, but I didn’t realize how serious the consequences were for getting caught. According to entertainment lawyer and intellectual property expert Gordon Firemark:
The penalties for violations of these rules can exceed $150,000 per infringment, and each copy of the offending product can be considered an infringement. So, with a cast of 10, each receiving a copy, you’re talking about as much as $1.5 Million dollars.
Aside: I recently started following Firemark’s excellent blog. It covers all aspects of entertainment and copyright law and I always learn something from reading it.This particular post can be read in its entirety here.
Back to the matter at hand: 1.5 million dollars for ten copies? HOLY COW!!! That’s some serious coin. Enough to make one sit up and take notice.
About two years ago we started offering optional videorecording licenses for groups that are performing our plays. Our customers love it. And they’re priced at a tiny fraction of the infringement penalties.