2012/06/10

More on Using Copyrighted Music in Dance Shows


More on Using Copyrighted Music in Dance Shows 120610

I received an email from a DANCE QUEENS member with more on the subject of using coyrighted music in dance shows. Here it is ...

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Hey Nottoo!

I saw your post on using copyrighted music in the dance festival and wanted to provide some unofficial advice.  I went to law school in the US and studied intellectual property (copyright, trademark, patent, etc.).  That being said, I am *NOT* a lawyer and this does not constitute legal advice.  Contact a lawyer in the appropriate field/specialization for that.

It is against the law to play copyrighted music (which is to say all non-original tunes) without permission.  Radios purchase a license to operate.  If the government had/has its way, internet radio will have to do the same.  Replaying music publicly in any form is going to be a no-no.  That's pretty cut and dry.  Fair use is a defense (something you assert in response to being charged with copying, it doesn't let you get out of jail free off the bat) and probably doesn't apply here.  For example, there is no transformative aspect when you replay the song verbatim.  Non-commercial use is a plus, but may not be enough to excuse the usage.  (You can't just play music for free on the street corner.  The record company would not be happy that you're giving away their product.)

The reason LL ducks the issue of enforcement is because you automatically assume a whole host of responsibilities once you start regulating something.  It's the same reason ISPs don't regular their customer's usage.  Far easier to respond to a DMCA takedown notice than to be the subject of a lawsuit.  It doesn't surprise me in the least and, in fact, I'd be shocked if it were otherwise.

Given all of the above, SL burlesque operates in a gray area.  The replaying of the music is probably infringement.. but only if you're caught and/or someone gives a d*mn.  As long as no one is selling just the music, no one will probably care and SL burlesque can get away with it (so to speak).  My completely informal recommendation is to let sleeping dogs lie and just run with it.  SL burlesque couldn't operate without music and I sincerely doubt that SL burlesque could provide its own original music.  As long as SL burlesque uses it as a component and not on its own, I would look the other way and continue onwards.  It's an ugly kind of thing, but there's no good solution.  Get a radio license per troupe to perform 6-20 songs a week?  That's just silly, plus no one makes money on this.  With land fees and investment in the acts, it's almost always a net loss.  I don't see anyone striking it rich from this - we do it because we want to, because it's fun, because it's art.

Any case, I didn't want to put that as a comment to your post.  You can mention it if you like, but no names, please.

Cheers!

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