Let's Dance! But who owns it?
European Intellectual Property Review
Sweet & Maxwell
Commercialise to survive: this is one strong message being given by the Arts Council to the creative sector. In a time of tightening purse strings, so alternative modes of financial survival have to be developed which do not depend wholly on public funding. One of these may be through greater commercial exploitation of creative outputs. Dance is no exception to this policy focus. Commercial exploitation of dance would depend on the exclusive rights granted under the copyright framework. Fundamental to developing an exploitation strategy would be to identify the author and owner of the copyright in the dance. This is an area that has been underexplored in law: there is little case law or literature on dance and copyright, but there are certain assumptions within the dance community as to authorship and ownership. This paper will explore authorship and ownership of the dance using two case studies: one called Love Games choreographed by Joan Clevillé and which, in a recasting, featured the dancer, Caroline Bowditch; and one called The Two Fridas choreographed by Caroline Bowditch and which features the dancers Welly O’Brien and Kimberley Harvey. In choosing these case studies we also aim to contribute to the wider discussion about the legacy of the Unlimited Cultural Olympiad programme (Unlimited). The paper will suggest that, contrary to the views of some, the dancers are either authors of the copyright in the arrangement of the dance on their bodies, or joint authors in the work of dance. It will also suggest that through a greater audience understanding of the nature and the quality of the work, and through an appreciation of what it means to own dance, so commercial exploitation could be facilitated.
This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in European Intellectual Property Review following peer review. The definitive published version: Waelde, C. Whatley, S. and Pavis, M. , Let’s Dance! – but who owns it?, (2014) 36 European Intellectual Property Law Review 217, is available online on Westlaw UK or from Thomson Reuters DocDel service .
Vol. 36, pp. 217 - 228