Prof. Peter and Katherine McGovern presented at the IP Cafe on the intersection of art, theatre and cultural property law. The following is a brief synopsis.
1. Katherine McGovern
Even though theater law is essentially contract law, you must not forget that it is copyright law. It could also involve tort laws.
Most theater law needs a partner.
Questions you need to ask:
- Is this actually a joint ownership?
- Was this the intent from the beginning?
1. Example of the play Rent:
The original playwright had died, when the script needed more work.
A new playwright was hired to change several incomprehensible lines.
It was later important to consider whether the new playwright was a co-author.
Work-made-for-hire usually involves independent contractors like choreographers, costume designers, etc.
Unions are very important in stage production.
Guilds are more professional organization. They can write amazing contracts.
The licenses used by guilds are commonly called loyalties.
There were issues of racial discrimination, which gave rise to unions.
Stage production now could also involve immigration law, as foreign actors could be brought for the production.
HB1 form involves whether the foreign actor or worker is really worth bringing to America.
Actor’s equity gets involved in this issue. The stage crew could be very protective.
Such issues were in production of Miss Saigon, concerning Lea Salonga.
- Copyright: 70 years + author’s life
- Labor law: It has been difficult to get protection for workers under labor for a long time.
The Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark play is a good current example of workers having hard time in production. The producer, Julie Taymor, had to quit the production team.
Actors do not want to be known as someone hard to work with.
The role of costumers: The costumers are always trying to get copyright for the costumes. However, the court denied copyright for the clothing.
2. Prof. Peter McGovern:
Relationship between artists and the world around them
People now protect their cultural properties. You have to get a license to get it out of the country. If you don’t do that, you are committing a crime. The foreign custom is stricter about this than the US custom. So you should pay all the duties.
Artist is always about consignment agreement. It could be both simple or complex.
UNH School of Law and Department of Cultural Resources will work together.