After a performance weekend, the dancers chatter about which show went best. Often this conversation is not for personal awareness, but to decide which show to order on DVD.
This fall the chatter happened like normal, but the dancers were in for an unwelcome surprise.
They were informed that they were no longer allowed to order DVDs of the performance.
“I felt sad that my family who couldn’t come to the show wouldn’t be able to see the pieces I was in, especially because I really liked them,” said Emily McAveney, a sophomore dance major.
The dancers were upset and confused because they always had been able to order DVDs. This year, when they inquired, they were told that it had to do with copyright laws.
Dance Department Chair Tauna Hunter explained.
According to Hunter, the problem is music copyright laws. Hunter said she had “peripheral knowledge” of the scope of these laws, but the issue came to the forefront after it was discussed at a conference hosted by the National Association of Schools of Dance.
The issue is “very complicated. That’s what they said,” said Hunter. “I didn’t understand the ramifications until that conference.”
Basically, the music copyright laws say it is illegal to make money using someone else’s music without permission. This includes sales of DVDs.
“There is no official policing agency, but if caught, I can be sued because I am the producer of the show,” Hunter said.
Her main concern, however, is for the students.
“I’m doing my best to follow the rules as best I can. I want the students to be educated because they are the ones who are going to go out there without knowing and then get sued,” she said.
Jessica Stachelrodt, a junior dance major, felt the strain of this issue while participating in her choreography class. She said it was a difficult process to get permission to use the music she selected. It took her a while to figure out who to contact, and when she finally emailed Naxos of America, a music licensing company, they told her the minimum fee is $300.
“I emailed them back and told them I was a student, and they reconsidered,” said Stachelrodt. “They told me to pay $100 but made it clear I didn’t have permission until the check went through.”
The process was stressful because Stachelrodt did not find out if her check cleared until just a week before the show.
“I had other music picked out, just in case,” she said.
Stachelrodt said that she was told that she had to request permission to use the music, but the rules behind it were not really explained.