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Video of Musical Performance

  • 1.  Video of Musical Performance

    Posted 9 days ago
    I observe that Youtube is full of high school productions from just about any musical, and I am most curious how they are able to post these. Does MTI offer behind the scenes licensing that smaller schools don't have access to? The licenses, even when available are very explicit about not allowing posting in any way electronically. And, many MTI musicals don't even come with the ability to purchase a video license to record for posterity. I feel kids should be able to have a way to see what they've accomplished, especially from non-performing arts schools where no one will pursue theater. Their performance will be a once in a lifetime kind of thing.

    Mainly just venting here, but it feels as if I'm missing something that other schools are in on.


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    Michael
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  • 2.  RE: Video of Musical Performance

    Posted 9 days ago
    I have noticed this as well and reported a few of them over the years, but YouTube doesn't feel obligated to report them or do anything about it. According to them it's the responsibility of the publishing house to regulate it and prosecute the offenders. I don't believe they have the legal team to go after everyone and many who post are parents who have illegally videotaped and posted who don't know the contractual obligation of the school/Director or care. They see others getting away with it and the copyright lines are blurred beyond recognition. I have to really police my parents during shows.

    Bruce Taws Mosley Drama Director 

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  • 3.  RE: Video of Musical Performance

    Posted 8 days ago
    I agree. The playwrights as well as the publishing houses need to be protected. I have always allowed schools to video an archival copy for their records of my own scripts. But I personally would go after any school or theater that had posted a video of one of my scripts online. That must violate the copyright law somehow. Perhaps the Dramatists Guild of America should be notified? It might be up to the writer or the publisher to do that.

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    Jean Klein
    Playwriting Teacher in MFA program, Wilkes University]
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  • 4.  RE: Video of Musical Performance

    Posted 7 days ago
    I realized I mixed two separate question into it (archival video and online video). Thanks for replying to both.

    What surprises me are not the parent videos (policing that behavior is a whole other topic) but the other videos that are often from very large schools who obviously have a very well funded drama department and post year after year. I figured they must have special arrangements with MTI that I can't. It's the old feeling of being left out and that everyone knows something that I don't. I finally had the curiosity to ask instead of making assumptions - and I appreciate the responses. I'm not looking to report anyone or get into debates about copyright.

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    Michael
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  • 5.  RE: Video of Musical Performance

    Posted 7 days ago
    To me it seems awful to film productions. Live theatre is such a different animal and videos never look or sound as good as the live show. We have paid royalties for live performances , not for film rights. I believe the law allows parents to film their own children, but not to post anything without the playwright’s permission. Schools that sell or post videos are teaching children to break the law.

    Sent from my iPad




  • 6.  RE: Video of Musical Performance

    Posted 7 days ago

    I'd wager that precisely zero of the schools that have posted on YouTube have any contract allowing them to do. 100% of those videos are posted in violation of their licensing agreements. 

    If I search for my name on Youtube I come up with thousands of hits. If I search for my play titles, I get even more. Taken together, these videos have been viewed several million times. I receive no compensation for this. 

    There was a time, during the pandemic, when play publishing companies gave schools the ability to pay to have their video-taped performances up on a streaming service for a set period of time - that was fairly quickly abandoned - although some schools still pay to stream shows (that's a whole `nother issue, but why pay to stream a show when you can just upload it to Youtube and send people links?)

    Personally, I'm of a mixed mind about it. I think social media is just part of our landscape, and part of the way kids are experiencing shows these days - I don't mind anyone putting up a video of them doing a scene or a monologue, or sharing a video with friends. In a way, it's great advertising for the play. But when a school's video gets tens of thousands of views, or when they put it online instead of buying a video license or streaming license, then it's taking money out of the playwright's pocket. 

    At the very least, if you are planning on putting a video on Youtube, you should buy a video archival license from the publisher. I would feel much better about all those videos if I knew I was being compensated in some small way for it. (And almost all of the schools have purchased performance rights, but those give you rights for a certain number of performances on a certain date, not YouTube perpetually.)  



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    Don Zolidis
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  • 7.  RE: Video of Musical Performance

    Posted 7 days ago
    I completely agree with Don.  This is not a special right for big schools.  A very limited amount of shows have video licenses.  And those licenses are extremely specific and do not allow an organization to post on YouTube.  

    Almost all contracts have language that is supposed to be in programs or read aloud regarding no videotaping.  Parents do not have special rights to videotape their children and if a licensing agent was in attendance and saw a school allowing it, they can cancel the performances.

    In fact contracts usually stipulate how much of a video you can use for advertising purposes.  It is a short snippet. 

    Unfortunately, most licensing companies lack the ability to follow-up on every claim.   It is up to educators to teach what is right and what is wrong.  

    My kids often complain that "but everyone else does it".  That does not make it right and it cheats companies and authors.

    Now- in the professional world, some companies are allowed video rights.  But they have a very different contract and pay for those rights.




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    Christina Myatt
    Director of Theatre
    Pleasant Valley High School
    IA
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  • 8.  RE: Video of Musical Performance

    Posted 7 days ago
    Michael,

    There is no YouTube license offered from any of the licensing houses, to my knowledge. 99% of the videos you find of full performances on YouTube are not legal (I leave room to be corrected, though I doubt ANY of them are.) From personal experience, the licensing companies don't have the bandwidth, staff, and legal power to report and take down every single one. Despite how large they may seem, licensing companies actually run on very modest staffing. 

    I agree with Don's opinion that social media is here to stay and think that theatre must find a way to include it or the industry will suffer even more than it already does in capturing an audience. Small promo clips are certainly allowed for advertising and marketing purposes, and the organic posting of monologues and scenes can be a wonderful tool to generate interest in a title for any author, well-known or just starting out. But posting 2.5-hour videos of a full production? Not the way to do it, nor is it the best way to preserve your production. 

    My advice: Be respectful of the artists whose work you're presenting. Post a promo clip. Buy a video license. Distribute the video files to your cast after your show with a VERY strongly worded warning that it is never to be posted online. Make them sign an agreement. Do whatever you can to protect yourself and your program's integrity. It is a very small community we're in, after all.

    Best,
    Matt


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    Matt Curtis
    Content & Marketing Director
    Educational Theatre Association
    OH
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  • 9.  RE: Video of Musical Performance

    Posted 7 days ago
    Something that hasn't been mentioned yet, in the context of someone losing money, is the schools themselves. Granted we believe an in-person live theatre experience is far better than a recorded one, but not everyone agrees. So, if someone can watch a full performance free on YouTube, "at their convenience and in their pajamas," why would they want to go to the theatre at a specific time and pay for it? It's sad, but some people, especially younger folks who have been using social media from a very young age, do think this way.

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    George F. Ledo
    Set designer
    www.setdesignandtech.wordpress.com
    www.georgefledo.net
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  • 10.  RE: Video of Musical Performance

    Posted 4 days ago

    So...at YouthPLAYS we actually do now offer two packages (available for most--but not all--shows) that allow a group to post their performance on social media (YouTube, etc.) Obviously, they cost more than just an archival video package. We did it during the pandemic but then continued it with the blessing of the overwhelming majority of our authors. Realistically, people were doing it anyway--and as authors have said, it's hard to catch them all--so we figured that we might as well give people the opportunity to pay to do the right thing.

    Also, I don't think someone is going to watch a recording on YouTube in lieu of seeing a live show; most recordings are really just historical records of a production, and they're not of sufficient quality to be anything more than that. But a recording (properly compensated, of course) CAN be a way for someone to see what someone else did with a play, which can be interesting for someone who's about to produce it.

    Finally--and this just happened recently--it could be that a group's live performances are sold out, and the show is closing; a recorded performance could be a way for people who weren't able to attend to still see what they did. It's not the same, but it's better than nothing, and if it puts more money into an author's pocket, I'm not sure it's a bad thing.

    Cheers,
    Jonathan

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    Playwright/Managing Partner of YouthPLAYS
    Los Angeles, CA
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  • 11.  RE: Video of Musical Performance

    Posted 6 days ago
    Over on Dramatics.org we have a post about copyright law in theatre. It's easily digestible and includes a number of useful links. Everyone involved in a production will benefit from understanding the rights, right?! :-) 

    Kindly,
     Patty Craft
     EdTA Content Manager

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    Patty Craft
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  • 12.  RE: Video of Musical Performance

    Posted 5 days ago
    Taking this in a slightly different direction...
    When I've taken on choosing and then producing a musical, having video available has been enormously helpful. While I have season tickets to my local Broadway Series, there are many musicals I have not seen (I live in a rural area). The summer before last, I must have viewed 40 different high school musical videos looking for the perfect one for the children I had. Then again, once I was into practices, I'm not a professional choreographer. I needed ideas and high school videos were a huge help. Professional videos wouldn't have offered the same, "What's possible with my group?" set of ideas.  Having no access to video would seem like a loss from an inspiration perspective.

    I hear the arguments that posting on Youtube for the general public has potential for taking income from the creators. But I question how much this is true. I have a hard time imagining watching a high school video and saying, "I've seen that, I don't need to go to the theater". But I'm from an older generation, If anything, all of what I've seen inspires my love of theater even more. Watching children / young adults perform is inspiring for additional reasons. But I get that I have a limited perspective especially since I've produced live children's theater. But I don't make my living writing and producing my own plays. I might feel differently if it was my creation. And even if not, I get and respect that others do.

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    Michael
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  • 13.  RE: Video of Musical Performance

    Posted 5 days ago
    I'm from an older generation too, and I hear what you're saying.

    As you know, the whole idea of copyrights (as well as patents) is to protect the rights of the creators, the ones who create these works and make a living from them. Thinking that we can use or view their work for free just because the technology is available is wrong. For many years before the internet and YouTube, we had to go to the library and museums to get inspired to (in my case) create better sets "than the last guy did." So did choreographers and many others. And we did just fine.

    There "should be" a way to look at some of these productions for educational or other purposes, legally, but so far there isn't one. Maybe at some point the publishers will come up with something.


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    George F. Ledo
    Set designer
    www.setdesignandtech.wordpress.com
    www.georgefledo.net
    ------------------------------