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Copying Scripts

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by lieperjp, Mar 21, 2009.

  1. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    Does everyone do this? Since tech scripts usually are wanted/needed with the blank page on the left, how does one reconcile this with Copyright Laws?

    Obviously, there is always requesting permission for copying from the publisher.

    Also, I've heard that (at least for music) if you have the originals, copies can be made and used (no more than the number of originals) and they must be destroyed after the performance. Does that apply to theatre too?

    Just wondering.
     
  2. achstechdirector

    achstechdirector Active Member

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    At my theatre, we copy them in their entirety and place them in a black binder. Then, we take a label maker and put the title, author, publisher, and a number on the spine and use this binder as needed. When the show is over, the crew is required to check in their binder with their number on it. I place them on a bookcase and that's where they sit. We have never had a copyright problem with the scripts because they are so strictly controlled. I don't believe that the publisher will have a problem with it because its not being distributed. As for music, in the band where I play 1st Trumpet, we copy to our hearts content. When you purchase music you also purchase the right to copy it for purposes that are within band. Also, I know that our director exchanges scores with other schools. I don't see a problem with copying a script as long as it does not get distributed and after the show is destroyed or kept in the theatre for educational/informational purposes. DO NOT SELL THE SCRIPTS. There was a community theatre in the region that had a yardsale to get rid of some old props and costumes, they sold old tech scripts for .50 per script and they got into a lot of trouble over it. If the scripts are in the way box them up or throw them away. By the way, I wouldn't flaunt the fact that I had the script. There is always going to be some butthole out there that is just trying to find something to do, and that something might be turn you in for copying scripts. In my opinion, the publisher knows that crews will copy it. So, make your own decision, but I don't think too much of copying a script for tech purposes. Some companies offer the script in a binder, but this is usually rental and you have to return it erased. I know that MTI offers this on some shows. Depending on the show, and your budget, that might be the easist way to go about getting what you need without violating copyright laws.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2009
  3. cprted

    cprted Active Member

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    While I can't claim to actually know what the law is, this is the rule of thumb I follow (hold over from my days as a musician). As an SM, one of the first things I do during my prep week is copy the script into prompt script form. I'm not sure how I would function if I couldn't photocopy a script.
     
  4. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    As has been mentioned, the publishers and licensing companies know that there are people who need to make copies of the script. Probably every stage manager in the country does for one, and designers and such. Also, consider that you can just buy scripts from companies like Samuel French and Dramatists Play Services right on Amazon. This of course does not give you performance rights.

    There are also shows (mostly musicals) where the scripts that you are given are just for each character with cue lines. Many actors and theatre companies find this to be quite annoying and so they just make copies of the prompt script and give it to the cast. You should still collect it back when the production is over, though not all do.

    You start to run into problems if you start selling copies of scripts or even just distributing them for free. You also will be in a world of hurt if you perform a show without first obtaining performance rights, even if you have purchased a script off Amazon.
     
  5. Sayen

    Sayen Active Member

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    Check with the publisher - some of the new, small internet publishers will let you copy the entire script, just to get the playwright's words out, and that comes with the performance rights. On the other hand, I'm not sure I'd even want to think about copying a Disney script.

    I'm shaky on this part of copyright law, but I will admit to copying my own legal purchased edition of a script, so I can put it neatly in a binder when SMing or directing. With most publishers you need to order one copy of every required script, acting and tech, and cannot distribute any free copies.
     
  6. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    To me this falls into the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" type of thing. We all do it, we all have to do it, just don't ask to do it. As long as you are not re-selling the script after the show, I see no issue. Also, if an SM or most designers actually used real scripts they would not be legible after being erased.
     
    avkid and (deleted member) like this.
  7. willbb123

    willbb123 Active Member

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    I dont remember where I first heard this quote, but I've always liked it. "Sometimes its better to beg for forgiveness then ask for permission."
     
  8. jwl868

    jwl868 Active Member

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    The holder of a copyright has the exclusive right to reproduce the work (along with other rights).

    Check with the publisher what you can do. Read the fine print. One author may allow broad use, while another is very narrow. Is an SM's copy "fair use"? Maybe. Certainly it would be expected in the industry.

    And try begging forgiveness to a copyright lawyer and the judge. :evil:

    See:
    U.S. Copyright Office


    Joe
     
  9. Sayen

    Sayen Active Member

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    That was my thought too. Asking for forgiveness later is great with, say, policy, but doesn't work so well with the law. I know the music companies will nail musicians over copies, although I've never heard of an audit over script copies.
     
  10. cprted

    cprted Active Member

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    I have. A band teacher I know was doing his student teacher practicum at a school that had their music library audited. It was pretty bad apparently. I don't know if there was a fine, but they lost about a third of their library. Which made most of their music useless as many of the copies were made to fill in the gap from missing parts.
     
  11. themuzicman

    themuzicman Well-Known Member

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    With buying music for a band -
    buying the arrangement and original pieces secures the right to copy pieces for performance and the royalties to perform that song - given that profit is not being made off of the performance. The Copies must be destroyed after the fact.

    However, with HS band, we always just kept the copies and went on with our lives. The only time we ever touched original pieces of music was to sight read the music.
     
  12. cprted

    cprted Active Member

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    Unless Canadian copyright law is different than US law (which it may be), it is illegal to photocopy sheet music without specific permission from the copyright holder. I know this has no bearing on reality, however ...

    I know band teachers have to order three extra copies of the score when they go to festivals because the adjudicators won't accept photocopied scores.
     
  13. achstechdirector

    achstechdirector Active Member

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    I have a thought, if the theatre buys a script for each tech, then they could copy the script as long as they kept the original script with the binder.

    Maybe, I don't know. As others have said. They know we have to do it, they are probably not going to say anything about it. AND, unless you post on a public forum OR you are audited for scripts (yea right), then they will never know.

    My $0.02

    ~Patrick
     
  14. cprted

    cprted Active Member

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    I don't know if the actual law allows for that, but that's what I and several others I know do.
     
  15. mixmaster

    mixmaster Active Member

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    Copyright law section 107 gives specific definition of "fair use" criticism, comment, reporting, teaching, scholarship or research. Says nothing about making multiple copies for interested parties, regardless of the practicality. The fact that everyone does it, or that it makes sense to do it, does not make it fair use in the eyes of the law.

    As you quoted above Section 106 (1) specifically grants EXCLUSIVE rights to the owner of the copyright to "reproduce the original work in copies.....". This indicates to me that any time the script hits the copier, regardless of who is using it, there is an infringement of copyright law.

    Since someone else brought up music, I checked some sheet music I checked some sheet music I have from last weeks choir concert It says "all rights reserved, including performance rights" I checked a book of guitar music from a band I play in some times. It says "Unauthorized COPYING, arranging.....is an infringement of copyright law." I'm remembering a book of music I got for church. It says that a CCL license (for performing the songs in public outside of church) does not extend to copying the music.

    Finally, I think we should all step back and think about this. When a person buys a script, they are buying the rights to use that work( the printed script or sheet music, not the play or song). Weather the person using the work is an actor or a tech person is irrelevant in the eyes of the law. It would be no different than a director only buying one script and making copies for everyone on the cast and crew. The only time that I can see any grey area is if a stage manager was to legal (pay for) obtain a script and then copy it for his own use. I can't find anything about that one way or another unless it is section 106 as above. But the minute that the SM make a copy of his copy for the LD, A1, whoever else, that definitely becomes an issue.

    Wow, that got long.
    Matt
     
  16. midgetgreen11

    midgetgreen11 Active Member

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    Publishers like MTI actually sell SM Prompt book photo copies already made. They just send it on a special paper with a "this is a copy" watermark in it, not distracting to the page, but so that they maintain copying rights.
     
  17. misterm

    misterm Active Member

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    Teacher's two cents here:
    Teachers often make copies of scripts for classes because it falls under the Section 107 of fair use as "teaching." The moment a teacher sells the script or produces it without paying rights and royalty, they are in violation. Many teachers make very detailed counts of how many copies they make and are sure to get exactly that many back. Also, should a teacher decide to do a play, most publishing companies require you to buy a full cast set along with the rights. Some plays are ok to be copied as long as the rights and royalties are paid, others are not. ALWAYS READ THE FINE PRINT. The tricky part is plays that are out of print or you can not find who owns the rights because they are so old. Also, how long is required before it can be considered "public domain?" This question recently came up in the music business as rock bands were still producing music and touring even as their first songs had reached the "public domain" mark.
    I agree with the concept of "don't ask, don't tell." This is one area nobody talks about for a reason. If we stick our necks out too far on it, we're only bringing attention to it ourselves.
    And its NOT better to ask for forgiveness when there are perfectly legal and relatively easy avenues of asking for permission!!!
    That being said, I was involved in a murder mystery dinner production back in the summer. A representative from the company that held the rights actually came to see the show! We had a few changes, but only because the references were outdated or because we as actors had simply forgotten our lines or had to cover. The rep enjoyed the show, thanked us for an enjoyable evening and never even had a copy of the script. They know that actors will forget lines or have to cover. If they got upset because that's technically "making changes" to a script, then every theatre dept in the world would be up to their necks in fines.
     
  18. jwl868

    jwl868 Active Member

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    A work enters the public domain when the author allows the copyright to expire. The copyright law has been amended several times in the last few decades that there is no single answer to "how long a copyright lasts." It depends on the date of the original copyright and then whether the author renewed the copyright after the first copyright term. Check the US Copyright Office website for details.

    (I think there may be a nugget of truth about old rock groups reaching the "public domain" mark. As I read the regs, several decades ago the inital copyright term was 28 years, so some of those old rock groups have reached that point. But the copyrights can be renewed, and presumably, they and their managment are on the ball.)

    Joe
     

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