The Playgoer: UrineCourt!

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Monday, December 03, 2007


Ah, remember the Urinetown story? The one where the NY production team sued not one, but two alleged copycat semi-pro stagings in the Midwest?

Well, a year, and no doubt many lawyer hours, later, at least one of the suits has been settled:

Chicago team, including director Tom Mullen, has agreed to pay an undisclosed sum to members of the Broadway version of "Urinetown," which was staged by helmer John Rando, choreographer John Carrafa, lighting designer Brian MacDevitt and set designer Scott Pask, among others.

Creative copyright watchers, take note: the "precedent" value here is still unclear, especially since it's a settlement, I guess, rather than a ruling.

New York side of the dispute had the support of directors' union the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, which aimed to use the case to boost its longstanding argument for the establishment of a director's copyright on certain staging choices.

The Dramatists Guild of America, which has taken a stance against such a copyright to protect revenues for its member scribes, swiftly touted an excerpt from a Department of Justice intervention in Mullen v. SSDC, et. al, which states "the Register denies that stage direction, as presented to the Copyright Office for registration, is copyrightable subject matter."

We haven't seen the last of these disputes, I can assure you. I believe it's in everyone's interest for director copyright to get on the books somehow, just so there's clarity and less chance of such protracted litigation.

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