Choreographic works were not recognized as copyrightable until the Copyright Act of 1976. Although many choreographers have taken the opportunity to register their works in the thirty-five years since then, many have not and for this reason and the nature of the dance community, few cases have come to the court on this subject; leaving little precedence for future cases to rely on.
But given that registrations are on the rise, it stands to reason that the complications of choreographic works need more investigation in order to predict future case outcomes. Therefore, after reviewing Horgan v. MacMillan, Inc. and many articles covering that case, we’ve put together a short video about choreographic copyright and the way in which photography may or may not infringe on such works.
Using video and still screenshots from the dance movie Center Stage, we compile a few examples of photography based on choreography and ask you to decide what you think might be infringement.
After studying the video and photographs, if you believe that photography could plausibly infringe on copyright, ask yourself what other example could be created to show photography crossing the line.
Jennifer W. & Kendall W.
Video from which screenshots were taken: