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Springtime For Copyright

Iris Dorbian • Editor's Note • March 1, 2007

In the January issue, we ran a news item in our “Greenroom” column about how the producer, choreographer and design team of the Broadway production of Urinetown were threatening to file a copyright infringement lawsuit against creative teams behind the productions at the Mercury Theater in Chicago and the Carousel Dinner Theatre in Akron, both of which had recently mounted their own productions of the Tony Award-winning show. According to the Broadway team, the Chicago and Akron theatres had exactly reproduced elements of the Broadway choreography and design into their respective productions. Though both theatres did get permission to mount the show and use the score for their respective productions, neither got permission to use the “direction,” choreography and designs (set, lighting and costume). The definitions of intellectual property are very much in flux, but right now, in copyright legalese, it doesn’t extend to directing and design.

The news item spurred a great deal of interest from some of you readers, as evidenced by our letters column. Its far-reaching implications are the subject of Managing Editor Jacob Coakley’s inaugural column on theatre business (see page 58). Clearly, it hit a nerve, rightfully so, where many of you are concerned. So far, no lawsuit has yet been filed against the Mercury Theater or Carousel Dinner Theatre. But if a lawsuit does get leveled against both theatres, how will this affect the way you stage musicals or plays that have been done on Broadway? Will this make you extra careful as to how you choreograph certain numbers? Or will this make you steer clear of producing Broadway shows in your venue? Please let us know.

Since I’ve been with Stage Directions, each issue has had a “special section” that focuses on an aspect of theatre, be it lighting, renovation, costumes, etc. In this month’s issue, our special section is on audio; however, based on the changes we’ve made with the editorial content the past few months, the term “special section” is rapidly becoming a misnomer. Whereas in the past our audio coverage was sporadic, save for those months when we devoted a special section to it, now our audio coverage is a regular staple. As with lighting and other technical elements, you will see an audio article in every issue, not just once every few months. Our mission is to provide you with the most cutting-edge, practical, how-to information on all aspects of technical theatre, and we intend to honor that mission by making articles on lighting and audio a regular occurrence.

Iris Dorbian
Stage Directions

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