Do you need to get the rights of a play to perform a staged reading?

Yankeefan007
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Just wondering - to perform a one-night only staged reading of a play, with no sets or costumes, just a bunch of people and music stands, do you need to obtain the rights?
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lakezurich
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You need to get rights to perform any material that isn't yours. And just out of curiosity what would be the point of performing a staged reading of someone else's show?
Rant, Wickud, Rant, Wickud, Rant! We're not gonna pay Rant! 'Cause everythink is Wickud!

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Yankeefan007
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lakezurich
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Well, whatever floats your boat! Have Fun!
Rant, Wickud, Rant, Wickud, Rant! We're not gonna pay Rant! 'Cause everythink is Wickud!

"Leave Walt Disney Theatricals new sparkling production of The Little Mermaid on Broadway alone!!!"

lakezurich will be played by Paul Groves in the BWW musical
Fosse76
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It depends...is there going to be an audience? If it just a group of friends getting together in an apartment than I daresay no you don't need the rights. If it is in a public forum then absolutely.
Updated On: 4/14/08 at 05:29 PM
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Calvin
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Especially if you're going to be charging admission.
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rclocalz
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Yes, it depends on if you will be charging an admission price I believe.
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Fosse76
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"Yes, it depends on if you will be charging an admission price I believe."

Technically that's not true, even if you are performing a staged reading on front of an audience for free you should have the rights. Since you don't own the work in question you can't perform it without permission from the author (this applies only to performances in front of an audience). Loss of financial compensation is a huge component of the copyright law, and one can argue that the author of the work is losing money since you wouldn't be charging to see his work.
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TooDarnHot
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If it is free or a concert benefit (all proceeds being donated to a foundation or non-for-profit) and it is a stripped "concert reading", you do not have to obtain the rights.

If you are performing a full musical, you must get the rights even IF it is free or is a "benefit".
sondhead
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"If it is free or a concert benefit (all proceeds being donated to a foundation or non-for-profit) and it is a stripped "concert reading", you do not have to obtain the rights.

If you are performing a full musical, you must get the rights even IF it is free or is a "benefit"."

Aren't you contradicting yourself here?

Anyways, not sure why people continue to believe this, but no amount of not-for-profit free-admission -ness makes rights not required. If you're performing a musical for people, you have to obtain rights. Period.
Fosse76
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"If it is free or a concert benefit (all proceeds being donated to a foundation or non-for-profit) and it is a stripped "concert reading", you do not have to obtain the rights."

That is absolutely not true. If you do not actually own the work in question, you cannot legally perform it in front of an audience under ANY circumstances, let alone charge admission, without the express consent of the copyright owner. If this is a staged reading among friends in a small classroom or a friend's basement or apartment, then you won't need the rights. However if you perform in a location where any member of the general public can walk in and see it then you absolutely must have the rights to the work. Depsite the fact that you aren't charging, you are denying the author the right to charge or profit from his work.
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lakezurich
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Wait, sondhead, so what you are saying is if it a free performance you don't need to get rights?
Rant, Wickud, Rant, Wickud, Rant! We're not gonna pay Rant! 'Cause everythink is Wickud!

"Leave Walt Disney Theatricals new sparkling production of The Little Mermaid on Broadway alone!!!"

lakezurich will be played by Paul Groves in the BWW musical
sondhead
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"Wait, sondhead, so what you are saying is if it a free performance you don't need to get rights?"

No.. what part of my message implies this? Or am I stupid and you were being sarcastic?
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lakezurich
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LOL, Sarcastic!
Rant, Wickud, Rant, Wickud, Rant! We're not gonna pay Rant! 'Cause everythink is Wickud!

"Leave Walt Disney Theatricals new sparkling production of The Little Mermaid on Broadway alone!!!"

lakezurich will be played by Paul Groves in the BWW musical
sondhead
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K Thx.. I was like.. seriously?

re: Do you need to get the rights of a play to perform a staged reading?
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lakezurich
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LOL!
Rant, Wickud, Rant, Wickud, Rant! We're not gonna pay Rant! 'Cause everythink is Wickud!

"Leave Walt Disney Theatricals new sparkling production of The Little Mermaid on Broadway alone!!!"

lakezurich will be played by Paul Groves in the BWW musical
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TooDarnHot
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Fosse, a FREE "Concert Reading" does not require rights.

I'm not talking about a full musical. I'm talking about a song cycle or revue or various material.

If the material is in a production/concert that is FREE, you do not need to contact the writers of the material to get permission.
Fosse76
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"Fosse, a FREE "Concert Reading" does not require rights."

Not true. ANY public performance of copyrighted material requires permission from the owner of the work. That's the LAW. If I wrote a song and you decided to use it in a talet show benefitting cancer, you still have no right to use it, because I retain the right to charge for its use. I would after all OWN the song. Just because you didn't charge for it doesn't negate that fact.
BkCollector
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sondhead
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Ya. Even Cabaret clubs and Piano bars have to pay blanket fees to ASCAP to be able to sing whatever in their establishments.

Why do people think not charging admission negates the need for rights? It absolutely blows my mind.

Updated On: 4/15/08 at 11:11 AM
BkCollector
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because once you make art and give it out to be performed it doesn't belong to you anymore.

Why is that so hard to understand? It blows my mind.

No one can own an idea: Why can some people not understand that? It boggles my mind. Seriously.
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Calvin
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I never said it negated the need for rights. But it's more likely to be overlooked. They're not going to be searching around for free readings of a play at the Tyler, Texas YMCA attended by maybe 20 people who didn't pay anything vs. heavily publicized rogue readings in which someone is profiting off another's work. Kind of like speeding 5 mph over the speed limit vs. 20 mph.
Updated On: 4/15/08 at 11:44 AM
Jon
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BKCollector has no clue whatsoever about copywright law.

He probably thinks it's OK to make photocopies of entire books and give them to friends as gifts. I mean, the author of the bokk has put it out for the public. Why should they be entitled to royalties?
BkCollector
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Jon, I know quite a bit about copyright law. I'm not saying that the law doesn't exist. I'm saying it's stupid.
Fosse76
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"Jon, I know quite a bit about copyright law. I'm not saying that the law doesn't exist. I'm saying it's stupid."

No...it's just you who's being stupid. So if I write a song, you are saying I have no right to dictate the terms of its use? The only people who seem to believe in that are uncreative lazy people who try to make money of other people's work. If I wrote a song, I certainly have every right as the creator to say "you can't sing it in public." You didn't have any involvement in its creation so you have absolutely NO RIGHT to use it. Artists want other people to enjoy their work, but they certainly don't want them to own it.