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Permission for professional videos

MTI Show Support
Related MTI Shows: Seussical JR. 
Teri McCarthy:

I'm directing an all-district musical this fall, Seussical, Jr., and I was interested in finding out if we can attain rights/royalties to have a professional videographer record the show.  We'd like to offer these videos as a fundraiser for the sustainment of our program, but if need be, we can simply make it a break-even deal.  Is there a way to check on that??

(1994 days ago)
Cindy Ripley:

Congratulations on directing your all-district musical Teri! Thank you also for asking a question that so many have, about video rights. Answering production questions are second nature to me, but there are legalities we directors sometimes simply are unaware of. SO, I re-checked with my MTI licensing colleagues so you would have "the real deal!"  Thanks Jesse for helping to clear it up for many!


 Unfortunately, the rights to videotape your production are not available. MTI does not own mechanical rights and so these rights are simply not ours to grant. Our license grants permission for stage performance only. The MTI contracts don’t say “yes” or “no” to videotaping as the rights are not ours to grant. There are still federal laws on the books that make it illegal to videotape most productions. I believe that these laws were written at a time before home video cameras even existed should possibly be addressed and updated. Unfortunately, until congress changes these laws, MTI will be legally required to inform you that the license does not grant you permission to videotape as we do not have any jurisdiction over federal laws.


MTI is working with authors to try and find a way to make video licensing available in the future. For now, the only titles that do have a video license available are Disney titles. Disney is able to offer a video license for productions of their titles because Disney hires authors on a “work for hire basis”. They negotiate the video and mechanical rights before the show is created. So, Disney titles are not subject to the same federal laws as Disney actually owns mechanical rights for their shows.


The times that a group would run into trouble for videotaping is if the video were to be broadcast or sold for a profit as this would be considered making a profit from another person’s intellectual property. If a video were to ever show up on any kind of broadcast or if it were sold for a profit, then the school could be held liable.


The following language is reprinted from the License of the Production Contract where specifically referring to the issue of mechanical recording:


I. COPYRIGHT PROVISIONS – Any violation of these provisions shall automatically terminate this License.


3.    Recording/Reproduction (Audio, Video, Computer Sequencing, etc.)


Recording: This License does not grant you the right to make, use and/or distribute a mechanical recording (rehearsal, performance or otherwise) of the Play or any portion of it by any means whatsoever, including, but not limited to, audiocassette, videotape, film, CD, DVD and other digital sequencing.


b.    Broadcast: Except for the usual right to advertise and publicize the Play be means of print, radio and television (in which no radio or television commercial shall contain excerpts of more than 30 seconds), this license does not allow you to broadcast, televise and/or electronically post on the Internet any part of the Play, either audio or visual or both, including, without limitation, musical selections.


4.    Program/Poster/Advertising Credits


You must include the following warning in your program:


“The videotaping or other video or audio recording of this production is strictly prohibited.”


Unfortunately, we are unable to grant any request for mechanical rights.  There is no appeal process.  Even if there were a way to oblige, it would not be practical to permit some theaters to record while prohibiting others.


MTI has recently begun a limited home use video license for our Disney titles ONLY: AIDA, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Disney’s 101 Dalmatian KIDS, Disney’s Cinderella KIDS, Disney’s The Jungle Book KIDS, Disney’s Aristocats Kids, Disney’s Aladdin Junior,  Disney’s Mulan Junior, Disney’s Alice In Wonderland Junior and Disney’s High School Musical. 


Teri, thanks for helping many teachers in your position.  WE ALL WISH we could give you a different answer!





(1992 days ago)
Dale Burgess:

This is a very succinct answer to the question I have posted about videos of shows showing up on YouTube (and others). If I am understanding you, this is not a "legal" activity, but that it is not up to the show licensing companies. So whether or not these people get in trouble is related to whether the owner of those rights goes through the effort to find out who is doing it. So unless someone is doing it for profit or airing on television it is probably not worth their time and effort to enforce their rights. That doesn't mean they couldn't, but just that they probably don't.

Not exactly the legal reform that seems sensible, but roughly the same thing.

(1992 days ago)
Teri McCarthy:

Thank you Cindy and Dale!  It's sad that it's still illegal, but understandable.  I think it's even sadder that so many break the rules.  I do appreciate the clarification, as do others I'm sure, that it is NOT up to MTI.  So many fellow directors have railed against the publishing houses, when it is truly out of their hands.  Thanks for the quick reply!!

(1991 days ago)