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Concert rights vs. stage rights

I am familiar with Grand Rights as they pertain to musical theater performances, but have a question. My choir does a concert with individual selections from many Broadway shows. We purchase legal copies for each performer and the accompanist and have ASCAP/BMI licenses (which I know do not cover Grand Rights). I was interested to see a notice on a recent choral score purchase: "This choral arrangement is for concert use only. The use of costumes, choreography or other elements which evoke the story of characters of a legitimate stage musical work is prohibited in the absense of a performance license." How far does this go? Can't be done by a show choir? No riser choralography? Am I right that this would also prohibit its use in a talent show with costumes? Would the performance rights for a single selection be handled in the same way as Grand RIghts? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
on March 13, 2015 7:15am
Two suggestions:
A)  Contact the publisher(s) of the piece(s) you desire to use and ask the same questions.
B)  Contact Yvonne Farrow, a professional choralographer, for her advice:  http://www.gotchoralography.com/profile.html .
 
on March 13, 2015 8:20am
First the disclaimer: I am not an attorney, just an enthusiastic amateur.  Don't take anything I say as legal advice without consulting your own counsel.
 
Okay, so when it comes to stuff like rights, there are two things to consider.  The first is who owns and manages the rights, the second is the actual language of the rights as they would be interpreted by a "reasonable person." Probably, the performance rights here are owned by MTI, and managed by either ASCAP or BMI for the song writers and publishers.  Since you purchased legal copies and pay your licensing, you're good there.
 
So, the second point--how would this be interpreted by a reasonable person.  The license says "elements which evoke the story of characters of a legitimate stage musical work."  They are trying to restrict you from using this printed music which is fairly cheap, to put on the actual showinstead of renting scores from MTI which can be exorbitantly expensive.  Clearly, everyone in a concert wears costumes, so that can't really be a factor.  As for choral or other-ography, I don't think any reasonable person would consider creative movement to be equivalent to "evoking a story of characters."
 
So, in my personal opinion, as long as you don't dress people up like the actual characters and attempt to recreate the story on stage, you should have no issues with performance rights.  Good luck!
on March 13, 2015 8:37am
Thanks to all those who have responded so far. I guess my question is less about this specific work, and more about whether performing ANY isolated musical theater selections in show choirs or talent shows needs rights beyond ASCAP/BMI if the students dress in theatrical costumes.
on March 14, 2015 12:26am
Are you trying to convey the story of the musical in your extract? My reading following the reasonable person idea - if you were to do 1 song from let's say Annie and had everyone dressed as orphans wouldn't be allowed,  but if you were to do the same song with the performers dressed higgeldy piggeldy but not as the film, you'd be ok. But I'm not a lawyer and not even in the US! With regards your second question - if it isn't precluded on the copyright info or other information when you purchased it,  you're probably ok.
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