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Copyright for High School play that has already been shot

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mccaincowCopyright for High School play that has already been shot
by on Apr 1, 2006 at 7:44:45 pm

To make a long story short. I recently returned to an american high school (that is outside the U.S.) where I went to highschool. Because I had professional video equiptment with me, While there I videotaped the preformance of the high school play, the school did not allow anyone else to film it claiming that my video would be superior and they could get copies of my video. I shot with my camera on my tapes, and turned them over to a school offical so they could distribute duplicates to the actors in the play.

I recently learned that the high school has new management who are nazis about copyright infrigement. The management refuses to allow any of the students who were in the play get copies of the preformance or even view the tapes. Their argument is the rights to the play did not include a video reporduction licence. While I am sure they are technically correct (and probablly morally correct), it seems quite silly especially consdering they are in a part of the world where piracy runs rampant and no one could ever enfore the copyright rules. I want these kids to have a memento of this important part of their high school lives.

While the video taping may have been illegal in some scense it have already happen. I believe that I own the copyright to the tapes, because I used my tapes i wasnt paid for my work and I have a sister that was in the preformance. I want to get the tapes from the school and make copies and pass them out free of charge.

Does anyone have a good legal argument for me to present to the school who now has the tapes?

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webfilmsRe: Copyright for High School play that has already been shot
by on Apr 3, 2006 at 7:20:17 am

You own the tapes as you purchased them and recorded the play. Demand that they be returned to you as they are your property. Next the play was licensed as a performance only. Your tape does not break the law. It is only against the law to sell the tape. You can make copies and give them to the actors for there personal use as a momento or a way to view thier performance. Tell the idiot who wants to keep the tapes to prevent a law suit that if they do not return your tapes you will sue them on princible that they agreed to make copies for private non commercial purpose.
Hope this helps,
Good luck

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mccaincowRe: Copyright for High School play that has already been shot
by on Apr 4, 2006 at 5:10:09 pm

I approached the school and got the tapes back. However they showed me the contract that specifically stated no video reproduction could be made including reporduction for personal use.

Is this a legal statement to put into a contract? I wonder how I fit into the scheme as I am not affiliated with the party who signed the contract?

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tony salgadoRe: Copyright for High School play that has already been shot
by on Apr 4, 2006 at 7:06:56 pm

It does not matter if you were not a party to the signing of the contract as you did secure the rights or permisson from r the copyrighted owner(s) of the production in order to videotape the event.

At this point you have the tapes back which is what really counts.

Tony Salgado

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nestorlRe: Copyright for High School play that has already been shot
by on Apr 5, 2006 at 4:31:26 am


Unless I misunderstood some aspect of this situation, the case is relatively clear. The play is copyrighted material and the school obtained a license to perform it. However, this license (contract) explicitly stated that the license did not include rghts for video taping of any kind. Regardless of what the school originally told you, you recorded copyrighted material without a license to do so. That is, neither you nor the school obtained the necessary permission from the copyright owner to videotape the play,thus any such videotaping can be considered copyright infringement.

Unlike others have suggested, there is no

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Bob BonniolRe: Copyright for High School play that has already been shot
by on Apr 10, 2006 at 12:59:00 am

Alright, I have two perspectives on this: Live drama is ephemeral. It is magic because it only exists in that moment when it happens. This is part of the root of what theatre is. So seeing it on film almost always dissapoints, detracts even from the more real, and magical 'memory' of it. In other words I think don't give out the film anyway.

Second, you have to consider that you share this liability with the school. If a copy were to get to, or news of the filming, to the rights holding organization (likely even several of these: often the performance rights, literary rights, and a clearinghouse are involved), then you are liable, and so is the school, because they allowed you to do it. IF something were to happen, you could effectively cause the bankruptcy of the school. These rights holding organizations live to litigate. Many make far more income from litigating unauthorized use, than they do from actual licensing ! So make no mistake: 'they' are watching, and you'd be stunned at where 'they' turn up.

Third, is it proper to encourage the kids in the thought that it's ok to steal 'a little bit' ? I don't know... Maybe it is... The issue is certainly complex when it comes to protecting copyrights. Abuses on both sides of the fence, good on others. Hmmm.

Just food for thought...


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