An Unaccountable Familiarity: A Dual Solution to the Problem of Theft in Theatrical Productions
The production of a play as a whole is a derivative work of joint authorship; thus, copyright law should protect it. As a work of authorship, the sum of the design elements that form a production are protectable by copyright because the production is an original creation; while based on the text of the play, any given production is developed separately from the underlying work and merits its own protection.8 Because of the collaborative and interdependent nature of a production of a play, musical, or opera, the resulting combination of all aspects of design and direction should be protected as a whole rather than as individual elements. Although the copyright protection is collective, there is still a need to give credit to the individuals who contributed to the final product; Congress should therefore create a statutory right of attribution for the individual designers, the director, and the choreographer of a production. This right would require anyone who uses or reproduces the work done by these individuals to either give them clear credit for their work or face liability for statutory damages.
Jeannette Gunderson, An Unaccountable Familiarity: A Dual Solution to the Problem of Theft in Theatrical Productions, 31 SEATTLE U. L. REV. 667 (2008).