Copyright (c) 2004 Emory University School of Law
Emory Law Journal
COMMENT: NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS: 1 COPYRIGHT LAW, THE THEATRE INDUSTRY, AND THE DILEMMA OF REWARDING COLLABORATION+
+ This Comment received first prize in the American Society of Composers, Authors, & Publishers' 2004 Nathan Burkan Memorial Copyright Competition at Emory University School of Law.
53 Emory L.J. 1533
Douglas M. Nevin*
Overture: The Lullaby of Broadway 3
It is a fabled combination of artistic excellence, erratic temperament, and high drama. It contains the dazzle, glamour, and high jinks of a Hollywood cocktail party along with the courage, tenacity, and grace necessary to emerge at the forefront of social change. Technically a for-profit industry, it has nonetheless led one long-time veteran to quip, "I wish the business there's no business like were more business-like." 4 Yet, while it appears at first glance to be little more than a quirky playground drunk on age-old, nonsensical customs, the commercial theatre industry remains at the forefront of our nation's artistic sensibility and sense of self.
A live, collaborative art form that allows for unique entertainment and social dialogue unavailable in television, film, or music, the theatre remains both a vital and endangered landmark of a free speech society. As of late, rising costs and diminishing audiences are blamed for the supposedly rapid disappearance of the theatre from mainstream American culture. 5 Perhaps the virus slowly eating away at the industry is instead copyright law's current inability to meet either of its dominant goals - protection and reward - within the confines of the Great White Way.
Because copyright law lacks a proper mechanism to acknowledge the single most defining characteristic of the form - collaboration - many theatre artists have long been denied the continued compensation and property protection to which they are entitled. By allowing only certain artists to enjoy copyright protection and ...
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