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Bill Attorney
Bill Attorney, Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
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CITY OPERA BALLET in Bellevue,, seeks advice on a number of

Customer Question

CITY OPERA BALLET in Bellevue, Washington, seeks advice on a number of copyright issues. Normally we rent music for our orchestra and obtain licenses through Boosey and Hawkes. However, the next two performances don't seem to fit the usual circumstances. 1) Our resident choreographer for contemporary works, ***** *****, has won first place in the 2017 Rocky Mountain Choreography Competition in Ogden, Utah. She will travel to Ogden in September to give master classes to students of Imagine Ballet Theater and then bring our professional company dancers to Ogden for her award concert in which the Ogden students will perform what they have learned in September. She wishes to choreograph the students' dance on the 2014 music Max Richter Recomposed The Four Seasons, Summer I Vivaldi (Deutsche Grammophon) which is on YouTube. We need advice on how to request permission to use this music for the concert. 2) We would like to produce the classical ballet, La Sylphide, in March 2018 to the music of Schneitzhoeffer and choreography of Lacotte (d'apres Taglioni 1832). The Schneitzhoeffer music is available on microfilm through the New York Public Library, but we do not know if we will need a license to perform it, and we do not know if we need permission for our ballet mistress, Christina Stockdale, to set this choreography on our professional company dancers (the choreography is available on the 2004 and 2006 Kultur and Naxos DVD's of Paris Opera Ballet productions). We are a non-profit organization registered in Olympia 600.607.075. Thank you very sincerely ***** ***** guidance you can provide. Mary Ellen Hundley, President/CEO, CITY OPERA BALLET (Ballet Bellevue, Bellevue City Opera, Orchestra Bellevue, Ballet Bellevue School). (###) ###-####
JA: Does this involve a written or oral agreement? Is it a month-to-month lease or fixed term?
Customer: This will need to involve a written agreement.
JA: What documentation do you have?
Customer: We do not have any documentation so far.
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: No, thank you.
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Expert:  Bill Attorney replied 2 months ago.

Dear Customer ,

This is attorney Bill offering assistance to your question on copyright law for your upcoming musical performance. The law in relation to using another's creative work in the US means that works that aren't in the public domain or in which copyright ownership is still possessed means that you must acquire a license to use the work unless your use comes within an exception to copyright protection.

All works published before 1923 are in the public domain and are free to use without acquiring a license.

Works published from 1923 until 1977 published without copyright notice are also in the public domain.

Copyright protection depends on the date of publishment , whether it was published with notice and whether the registration was subsequently renewed.

Records can be checked online for those published after 1978 and at the library of congress for works before 1978.

You may find that the work is in the public domain.

You are also entitled to limited use of any work so long as its use is fair without acquiring a license.

So using a piece of music in a once off performance would be fair but would depend on its precise use:

17USC 107

"Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—


the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;


the nature of the copyrighted work;


the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and


the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors."

The best way to be sure is to contact the the copyright owner of all the music pieces and acquire a license of use if the work isn't in the public domain,doesn't exist under a creative commons license, or your use isn't fair but commercially exploitative of the owner's work.

Please follow up with me if you need more information.

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Attorney Bill