Forbidden Broadway/Legal Question

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CattleCall
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Forbidden Broadway/Legal Question#0
Posted: 12/28/05 at 10:41pm
Does anyone know what law Forbidden Broadway is protected under in order to use the music from all of these shows without specific permission? I'm trying to figure out if it's legal and/or possible to parody a well-known song in an original work. Anyone know?
"I can't pay the bills yet, 'cause I have no skills yet. The world is a big scary place." - Avenue Q
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re: Forbidden Broadway/Legal Question#1
Posted: 12/28/05 at 10:46pm
I am not sure but isn't parody and satire protected by law?
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re: Forbidden Broadway/Legal Question#2
Posted: 12/28/05 at 11:05pm
Wow, I actually had the same kind of question I was going to ask here...

Check out this article...it seems like the situation you are describing.

Good luck! http://64.233.161.104/search?q=cache:dk78YQc0uQkJ:www.townonline.com/arts_lifestyle/arts_lifestyle/art_feaastarmusicaljwasdoc01292003.htm+%22forbidden+broadway%22+parody,+copyright&hl=en
Updated On: 12/28/05 at 11:05 PM
Joe Mike2
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re: Forbidden Broadway/Legal Question#3
Posted: 12/28/05 at 11:09pm
I think they have to get permission from the creators of the shows that they are using the music from.
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re: Forbidden Broadway/Legal Question#4
Posted: 12/28/05 at 11:22pm
I would most definitely assume they have permission...if it wasn't legal it would be shut down and Forbidden Broadway has been on for a while...I don't think it's a law they're protected by, they just get permission...
Jon
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re: Forbidden Broadway/Legal Question#5
Posted: 12/29/05 at 12:08am
Not only do they have permission, they are given the music by the composers. You certainly would not want your music played incorrectly by someone who didn't have access to the real sheet music.

The real insult is being connected with a show that Forbidden Broadway DOESN'T wat to make fun of.
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re: Forbidden Broadway/Legal Question#6
Posted: 12/29/05 at 12:52am
Is it written anywhere on the Internet that they have to get permission from each show in order to parody? I've been doing research on it all day and I haven't been able to find anything...
"I can't pay the bills yet, 'cause I have no skills yet. The world is a big scary place." - Avenue Q
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re: Forbidden Broadway/Legal Question#7
Posted: 12/29/05 at 1:01am
You don't have to have permission to parody things as long as you have some alteration. Since other posters have indicated Forbidden Broadway uses the exact melodies of the shows it's mocking, obviously it would need permission. Dog Sees God, on the other hand, mostly evokes the well-known characters of Peanuts with aliases like "C.B.", so I assume that show is an unauthorized takeoff on the original material.

And the "Optional Link" field is your friend, people. I'm begging you.
Updated On: 12/29/05 at 01:01 AM
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re: Forbidden Broadway/Legal Question#8
Posted: 12/29/05 at 1:18am
so if you parody a song but change up the melody to the point where it's not exactly the same but still recognizable, is it okay?
"I can't pay the bills yet, 'cause I have no skills yet. The world is a big scary place." - Avenue Q
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re: Forbidden Broadway/Legal Question#9
Posted: 12/29/05 at 2:23am
Can you not use a certain melody as long as you dont go past 8 notes or some number like that?

Parodies do not have to legally authorized though. For example, there are plenty of unauthorized books and biographies on book shelves that sell very well.
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re: Forbidden Broadway/Legal Question#10
Posted: 12/29/05 at 8:24am
I believe that If you have your worked parodied by Gerard Alessandrini, it means that you are a theater landmark and people recognize you so in reality it is an honor to be parodied, and they really don’t make fun of the person in question. I know for a fact that Gerard Alessandrini is quite close with Sondheim and The R&H organization so they are both good sports and so give Gerard Alessandrini pieces that they are working on as soon as the finish because the want to be parodied. I also know that Andrew Lloyd Webber always gives a difficult time and a lot of time the reason that the show changes so often and things are added/ removed is because people have a problem with it and they have to take it out to avoid a lawsuit.

-Horton
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re: Forbidden Broadway/Legal Question#11
Posted: 12/29/05 at 8:32am
Forbidden Broadway does get permission from the composers to use the music.

Early on, Andrew Loyd Webber wouldn't give his permission for Phantom of the Opera and you'll notice on cd #2 that for that sequence, they had to use other music.
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re: Forbidden Broadway/Legal Question#12
Posted: 12/29/05 at 8:55am
If you're trying to do parodies, the Forbidden Broadway model is a hard one to get. In the early days Gerard Alessandrini did FB in a smaller cabaret style and didn't really get the parody rights; that kind of came later. Now, however, he pretty much has a relationship with many of the bigger names... whether that's music publishing companies, or specific big name composers, etc. So when a new musical comes out, chances are he has previously dealt with those rights people.

Webber now gives him full permission, but you can try what Alessandrini did before those days, which is to change the music enough so that it sounds similar but is actually a different song.
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re: Forbidden Broadway/Legal Question#13
Posted: 12/29/05 at 10:13am
You don't need permission to make a parody. Period. It's a merging of the First Amendment with copyright law. While FB gets permission for the music, he doesn't need it. The song as a whole is the parody, and it would be the burden of the copyright holder to prove that anyone would confuse it with the legitimate song (which is the main point of copyright law). It's very complex, but FB wouldn't lose a lawsuit (though it would for its Spamalot parody where they actually sing about half of The Song that Goes Like This before the words actually change).
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re: Forbidden Broadway/Legal Question#14
Posted: 12/29/05 at 10:28am
About the Phantom parody, I believe something similar happened with the first "Liza One Note" number. "Johnny One Note" was not used, but instead a melody was used that was very similar. Later, the number was redone with the "Johnny One Note" music.
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re: Forbidden Broadway/Legal Question#15
Posted: 12/29/05 at 10:50am
Back when I was a poor struggling actor in NYC in the -'80s, I waited tables (off and on) for two years at Palsson's Supper Club, where "Forbidden Broadway" was playing. I worked the show several times as well as the Box Office for F.B.

I can tell you that because this is performed as a regular scripted show (as opposed to a "variety" show where the line up can and does change from night to night), they are legally responsible for clearing the rights and addressing any royalty issues for the songs they use.

When the show first opened it was more difficult because nobody knew what F.B. was, and a few composers and "rights holders" weren't eager to let them use the material for free. Some agreed to let them use it for the show, but not for the cast recording. You'll notice the "Johnny One Note" parody "Liza One Note" had to be altered for the initial cast album so that it wasn't a direct lift of the song. They couldn't legally clear it.

Once the show opened initially, most composers gave Gerard free use of their material (including the Rodgers & Hammerstein estate, which I know for a fact). Basically, they said, "use whatever you want to, it's fine with us. No charge." That was 20 years ago, though.

Even the actors have gotten involved. Ann Miller (God, I lover her) gave Forbidden Broadway one of her own wigs, saying playfully, "at least get the hair right."

I'll bet now a few of the rights holders have come back, realizing how big of an institution it's become, and asked for royalty money. I'm speculating on that, and haven't been associated with F.B. in any capacity for years.

Bottom line is I only know what was happening back then... not how it's approached now.

But, yes, legally they must clear the songs for use.
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Updated On: 12/29/05 at 10:50 AM
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re: Forbidden Broadway/Legal Question#16
Posted: 12/29/05 at 10:54am
thanks for all the help, guys!
"I can't pay the bills yet, 'cause I have no skills yet. The world is a big scary place." - Avenue Q
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re: Forbidden Broadway/Legal Question#17
Posted: 12/29/05 at 11:30am
I'm remembering a few other things about this. (It's been 20 years, so I'm allowed.)

The big legal question was whether or not it was a true "variety" show or a scripted show. That much I remember. If the songs appeared regularly in the same line-up, show after show, it was not protected as an impromptu or one-shot variety show. I remember Gerard and the cast posting new "line-ups" every night back stage, just inside the entrance curtain. This was to help with remembering costume changes, but also show anyone (for legal reasons) that the show was "slightly different" each time. I thought that was a bit of a desperate attempt, but they were trying anything to get rid of any potential legal action. In reality, the show does change when new numbers go in, and old ones are removed, but it's not that often. And certainly not at all, when the show first opened.

Ultimately they received full permission to use the material from just about everyone you can name, so the point became moot.

As far as this being protected as a "parody," that doesn't remotely come into play if you're lifting the music note-for-note. That's not parody, it's theft if you don't have permission. The lyrics are parody and the "caricatures" are parody... but not the music. That's where the legal issues came into play.
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Updated On: 12/29/05 at 11:30 AM
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re: Forbidden Broadway/Legal Question#18
Posted: 12/29/05 at 11:39am
Well, then you should tell that to the Supreme Court. The music is what makes the satiric lyrics a parody. The music is not protected for that use. There was a case involving the rap group, 2 Live Crew, who recorded a parody of the hit song, Oh Pretty Woman, without permission of the owner, Acuff-Rose Music. Acuff-Rose sued on the grounds that 2 Live Crew infringed its copyright. The Federal District Court decided that the new song was a fair use and dismissed the case, but on appeal, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that ruling stating that a parody in the sense of a critical commentary on the original work could not be a fair use where the parody sought only to make a profit. The U.S. Circuit Court decision that the parody of Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman" by the rap group 2 Live Crew was copyright infringement ran contrary to prior case law allowing parody of original artworks without the new work constituting infringement. The U.S. Supreme Court reviewed this case and ruled that the existence of a commercial purpose does not destroy the fair use exception to copyright infringement.

Without the music, there is no parody, because it's just words.
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re: Forbidden Broadway/Legal Question#19
Posted: 12/29/05 at 11:48am
Fosse76 --- Forbidden Broadway's source music isn't protected for free use as a "parody." That much I'm positive about.

YOU tell ME why it isn't, then.


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Updated On: 12/29/05 at 11:48 AM
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re: Forbidden Broadway/Legal Question#20
Posted: 12/29/05 at 1:51pm
"Fosse76 --- Forbidden Broadway's source music isn't protected for free use as a "parody." That much I'm positive about.

YOU tell ME why it isn't, then."

Because the Supreme Court said it isn't. And that's fact. Just because they received permission to use the music, doesn't mean they needed to. Everything is protected under copyright law, with exceptions. Satire/Parody is an exception. The case I referenced confirmed it. They used the MUSIC from Pretty Woman, without permission, and the Supreme Court said that it was perfectly legal. Now, I am more inclined to think the Supreme Court is more knowledgeable on issues of copyright law than you are. (That legal research class is finally paying off!)

So why would the source music for FB be any different? If you take the lyrics from any FB song, and just recite them without music, it really isn't much of a parody. It may be funny and making fun of something, but it isn't a parody of a song without the music to it.

*EDIT

Let me add, I'm not saying that they shouldn't have permission. They are definitely better off with it, but in the basic legal context, they do not. Ultimately, it would be up to a judge to decide if the parody is in fact a parody or an infringement. There are four factors that must be considered, and I believe FB meets all with relative ease.
Updated On: 12/29/05 at 01:51 PM
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re: Forbidden Broadway/Legal Question#21
Posted: 12/29/05 at 1:57pm
So basically, Gerard's general concern about it, the producers concern about it, and Palsson Supper Club's concern about it... was just a big hallucination on my part?

...And Gerard just decided to change the melodies to "Johnny One Note" and all the Phantom of the Opera music because he liked his own melodic bastardized versions of these two parodies better?

Yeah... that makes sense.
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re: Forbidden Broadway/Legal Question#22
Posted: 12/29/05 at 2:00pm
Oh let me add, the case I referenced was from 1992, so when FB was in development, the legal question was still unanswered. But yes, in light of the Supreme Court's decision, which is the FINAL word on any matter short of a Constitutional Amendment, they did worry for nothing (well, they saved a lot in legal fees at the least).
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re: Forbidden Broadway/Legal Question#23
Posted: 12/29/05 at 2:04pm
"...And Gerard just decided to change the melodies to "Johnny One Note" and all the Phantom of the Opera music because he liked his own melodic bastardized versions of these two parodies better?

Yeah... that makes sense. "

Well, as I just added, it's ALWAYS better to be safe than sorry. And the legal question wasn't answered until 1992. But you cannot make a parody of a song without the song's music (that's just basic logic). I am just merely stating what the law is. And I'm telling you, the music of a song is fair use for parody.
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re: Forbidden Broadway/Legal Question#24
Posted: 12/29/05 at 2:11pm
You can't make a parody of a song without using the music note-for-note???

Isn't that exactly what Gerard did with his Liza and Phantom spoofs? We all knew what he was spoofing and the music was altered... for a reason.

FYI... I also remember one of my "guilty pleasures" TV shows from the past: "The Animaniacs" doing hilarious spoofs of Broadway musicals and musical performers. They always did these parodies, and never used the actual music or lyrics note for note. Their “Les Mis” spoof (which lasted an entire half-hour episode and included Bernadette Peters as one of the main voices) was a riot.

I'm not arguing with the Supreme Court.

But to state that you have to use someone's music note-for-note to create a parody of it that is recognizable… just ain't true.
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blocked: logan2, Diamonds3, Hamilton22