Choreography and Copyright Law in the United States

Since the adoption of The Copyright Act of 1976 in 1978, many legal commentators have devoted their time and energy to analyzing the copyright protections of choreography. However, many questions remain unanswered by the members of the dance community.

The following research provides a digestible definition of the parameters of the 1976 federal copyright law addendum and a brief legal history of choreography in federal courts for both non-dancers and non-legal experts. The research identifies and discusses many of the limitations in copyright law in respect to choreography while also recognizing philosophical issues in legal specificity and concrete definitions of abstract entities like originality, ideas and expression, and what constitutes a tangible media. The research is focused on the beauty in artistic collaboration and potential detrimental legal implications of doing so. Possible solutions to legally motivated problems faced by dancers and choreographers are also proposed throughout the span of the paper as well as behavior to emulate from past dance professionals. 

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