theatre production videoed

If you are worried about infringement or your work has been copied and you want to take action.
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theatre production videoed

Post by stephensm »

Hi just joined here.

We have just performed a play and the acting school said they were to video the performance of us.

We have asked for a copy so we can show our families etc and the school says we cant have a copy to due to copyright.

Surley this cant be the case as we are actually in it!

Where do we stand as we want to demand that we are given a copy as we paid for the acting course. We never expected to be paid for the performance as its just a beginners class but we need a copy of our first play.

Any advice before i argue with them, i need to know legally where we stand.

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Post by AndyJ »

Regretably what you have here is two separate things which are subject to copyright. The performance and the video recording.
Let's start with the rights of the performers. You have several important rights: to be identified (ie your name to appear in the programme etc), the right to object to derogatory treatment of your performance and the right to consent (ior not) to someone else recording your performance. Assuming that you have given your consent to a recording being made, you have the further right to consent (or otherwise) to how that recording may be used - for sale, lending, exhibition etc. You are also entitled to an equitable share of any profits made from the sale of any recordings.
But before you get too carried away, some or all of these rights can eroded if the person who made the recording can reasonably show that they believed they had your consent. This may apply if, for instance, somewhere in the small print of the acting school's contract, you transferred some of the rights to the school as a condtion of joining the course.
Next let's look at the rights available to the copyright owner of the video recording. This person may be the actual videographer, the producer, or the director, or any combination of them depending on the circunstances. They own the copyright in the filmed version of your performance (including any editing or other artistic input they may have contributed), but only if they have your (the performer's) consent. They do not automatically have any rights to exploit their recording, again, unless you have consented to this. Exploitation can mean making copies for sale or hire, or just showing the original recording to the public.
So you can see that, in theory, unless you have given your informed consent to the performance being recorded, it may be an infringement of your rights in performance. If the acting school feel they do have your consent to have made the recording, it follows that they could also presume to have your (collective) consent to make copies of the recording to give to you. So on the face of it, their excuse for not giving you a copy is not valid, unless of course, they, the school, do not own the copyright in the recording (ie some third party made the recording for them and he holds the right in the recording and refuses to issue copies). If this is the case, then the school have been extremely naive, and unless you the performers gave this third party permission to record, I would question the legality of the recording.
A healthy dollop of common-sense appears to be necessary here.
(in case you want to check the law yourself, so that you can quote it to the acting school, it can found in Part II of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 as amended by various more recent Regulations. I warn you, it's pretty complicated stuff. A more straight forward guide can be found here: and here: ... former.htm
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