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School of Law

An event to launch Performing Copyright Law, Theatre and Authorship by Dr Luke McDonagh

When: Monday, March 28, 2022, 6:00 PM -
Where: Online,

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Chair: Professor Jonathan Griffiths, School of Law, Queen Mary

It goes without saying that theatre involves performance, but what is perhaps less appreciated is that law too is a performative mode of practice. The tasks that copyright lawyers and judges perform – often during the theatre of the trial – shape the boundaries of copyright law, which in turn affects the way works of theatre are perceived as objects of property. With this in mind, the theatre world itself presents a fascinating setting for exploring the legal concepts of the copyright work, authorship, joint authorship, infringement and moral rights from an interdisciplinary perspective. These notions do not have a stable, inherent meaning – they are infused with normative content only through the practice, or the performance, of law. As theatre practitioners and copyright owners have made claims, and sought enforcement of rights, legal jurists have, through processes of legal reasoning and improvisation, defined the content of what the law protects.

This book explores how these copyright law concepts have been developed in the context of theatrical practice and performance. The book addresses several inter-connected questions: who is the author and first owner of a dramatic work? Who gets the credit and the licensing rights? What rights do the performers of the work have? Given the nature of theatre as a medium reliant on the re-use of prior existing works, tropes, themes and plots, what happens if an allegation of copyright infringement is made against a playwright? Utilising empirical interview data gathered by the author, the book provides legal analysis enriched by insights from the theatre field.

Please register above and you will be sent a Zoom link to access the event the day before it takes place.

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