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In the nineteenth century, copyright law expanded to include performances of theatrical and musical works. These laws transformed how people made and consumed performances. Exploring precedent-setting litigation on both sides of the Atlantic, this book traces how courts developed definitions of theater and music to suit new performance rights laws. From Gilbert and Sullivan battling to protect The Mikado to Augustin Daly petitioning to control his spectacular 'railroad scene', artists worked with courts to refine vague legal language into clear, functional theories of drama, music, and performance. Through cases that ensnared figures including Lord Byron, Laura Keene, and Dion Boucicault, this book discovers how the law theorized central aspects of performance including embodiment, affect, audience response, and the relationship between scripts and performances. This history reveals how the advent of performance rights reshaped how we value performance both as an artistic medium and as property.Read more
- Traces the development of performance rights in Anglo-American copyright law
- Demonstrates the interdependence of legal theory and artistic debates, focusing on the law's contingency, rather than solely on legal outcomes
- Explains how copyright reshaped the theater and music industries
Reviews & endorsements
'Derek Miller's superb study examines how live performances of drama and music became objects of legally protected commodification between 1770 and 1911. In addition to his extended treatment of nearly a dozen major legal cases, Miller supplies a wealth of material from dozens of minor disputes as well as some wonderful archival finds from case files. Copyright and the Value of Performance will be important for literary and performance historians for its expanded account of what copyright is, was, and can be.' John Shanahan, Modern Drama
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- Date Published: April 2020
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9781108441698
- length: 291 pages
- dimensions: 230 x 153 x 15 mm
- weight: 0.6kg
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
Introduction: copyright, commodification, and performance
1. Performance's valuable propriety, 1770–1833
2. Ontologies of the performance-commodity, 1833–86
3. Audiences, actors, and value, 1852–1911
4. The performance-commodity at work, 1833–1911
Epilogue: valuing performance today
Appendix: timeline of major legislation and litigation affecting performance rights.
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