Early July Morning, Cocoa Beach, Florida

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Copyright Laws

Laws are for our protection. We have traffic and seat belt laws to keep us safe in case of a wreck. We have laws against armed robbery or breaking and entering to keep our families and possessions safe. There are also silly laws like one in Indiana: "Baths may not be taken between the months of October and March," or in Louisiana, "You may not tie an alligator to a fire hydrant." I can't tell you why these are on the books, but I suppose when they were passed, there was a good reason.

I grew up with two sisters. The three of us danced pretty much our whole lives--up through college years, and two of us continue to be a little involved as adults. My daughter, who is away at a major university has also grown up dancing. In fact, she is majoring in dance, and is on a team that I was on while majoring in dance at this same university. Twenty-seven years ago, when I was dancing on this same team, there were no video cameras to tape the shows we did so that we could reminisce in future years. I've always been sadden by this. I have many pictures, but no video of any of my dancing years. My daughter, on the other hand, has her own video camera, and has taped many of the pieces she has been in. Now that she is many miles away, I am so happy that I am able to see her dances through video. I may not be able to be there, but eventually I can see her talent growing.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of a show that her dance group has done through the years. They have invited all alumni to be a part of the show. Since I am an alumni of the team, I entertained the thought of going--but, with responsibilities at home, it was just not possible. I figured, well, I know I can't be there, but she will have a video of it, and I can enjoy the show when she brings it to me over the Christmas holidays (like she did last year with last year's show). Well, this is not going to happen. I just found out last night, that they will not be filming at all. Usually, they film, and broadcast it on the university's TV station (which through satellite I am able to watch). I was really looking forward to that.

So, why, you may be asking yourself, are they not taping the show? It is because of the copyright laws. Now, don't get the wrong idea. I do believe in copyright laws. I do believe that when one tapes a movie to avoid buying it, it is stealing. I also believe that when one downloads or copies a song without paying for it, it is also stealing. One other thing that has always irritated me, is when one writes a report for school and actually copies it from someone's work...this is also stealing. The laws have really gotten out of hand, though. It is getting to a point, that our little girls will not be able to be in a dance recital to any music because of these same copyright laws.

I remember when my daughter would find out what song they were going to be learning their new dance for recital or competitions. Many times, we had never heard of the song, and upon inquiring who the artist was, more times than not, we would go and purchase the CD. My daughter not only likes to dance, but she likes to put together montages of pictures and videos. She put one together for my 50th birthday. Many of her dance pieces and video montages are on youtube. Because of the copyright laws, they have taken many videos off, or like in the case of my 50th birthday video, changed the song. The song they put on does not even make since. My daughter always puts things together with the song. She also gives credit to the artist in her credits. In some of her work, she has used songs that are not popular, and many have made positive comments on the song and wanted to know who it was, so that they too could purchase the CD. To me, using these songs for dances in recitals, competitions, shows, etc. is like free advertisement for many artists.

In closing, I would like to say that I hope that many of these artists realize how important their music is to the dance world. How are the dancers suppose to express themselves without music? Music is so much a part of all of our lives, and I feel that the copyright laws need to be changed. There needs to be a compromise...


  1. That is sad. I wonder how to go about approaching this problem, what can we do?

  2. Why wouldn't the school try to find copyright free music to use? This does exist. They could also have tried to contact some of the artists before deciding on the music to find out if they could use the music for free (since it is a school function) or maybe pay a nominal fee. It sounds like the school dropped the ball on this.

    Simply giving credit to an artist with the hope that someone will compensate him/her buy maybe buying his/her product is not enough. Professionals (musicans/writers/dancers/artists/etc) don't do this stuff for free. They need to eat too, so while I can understand your disappointment, I can't agree with the idea that music should be free just because someone wants to put a recital together.

    Here is a similar example: A dancer choreographs a ballet, and she teaches it to other dancers in a class. One dancer likes it so much, she decides to put on a show using this choreographed piece. She does not ask the first dancer for permission, but she does put a note in the show program that the original choreographer was dancer xyz. Isn't this stealing?

  3. Well, as far as the school getting permission, this is a folk team, and they use folk music, like really, really old music from other countries, and they have been using it for 50 years now. When doing a Hopak number out of the Ukraine, you need to use a specific music. This has just come up this year. I agree with you to a point, and if it was a problem, they should have given them a little time to correct it. Also, it being a school, I would think they would be able to get a bit of a discount for using some of this stuff, as I know that many plays, etc that companies use, the fee is extremely high. By the way, they do sell the music to some of the team members (from the artists themselves). I am surprised, though, that they are even letting them put the program on. To me that is puzzling, that they will let them put on the show, but not tape it for the performers to see later.

    As far as putting together video montages, Ashley is not selling them, and she has already bought the CD. And...with the recitals, etc, I don't agree either. These dance studios have purchased the music (along with many of the students) and the recitals are not a money making thing. Also, many of these studios don't have much money to begin with. Now the competitions make quite a bit of money, and there is no way the music used there has been cleared.

    As far as the music artists go, I don't believe it is them coming up with the laws, as it is the record companies. Once the artists makes a recording, they really don't get much money out of it unless they tour.

    One last thing...to a point the laws seem so drastic at times, that one might be afraid to even sing the song in public, as they might get a fine. I know that seems extreme, and I know it is, but not much of one...