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This Article addresses copyright protection for stage directions. Copyright law dictates that stage directions are subject to copyright protection, as they are original creative works that can easily be fixed in a tangible medium. Under their union contracts, theatre directors reserve ownership of the copyright in stage directions. Directors who believe that their staging has been misappropriated by a later director can prove infringement through showing access and substantial similarity. The doctrines of merger and scenes a faire, however, limit the extent of that copyright protection. If copyright law fails to fully vindicate a director's hoped-for rights in stage directions, other legal theories also pose their own hurdles. Ultimately, a director should be able to successfully sue a later director for copyright infringement if the later director closely copies the most striking features of the original director's staging. Give my regards to Broadway! Remember me to Herald Square! —George M. Cohan No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money. —Samuel Johnson


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6 Sep 2022
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  • Subject
    • Intellectual Property Law

  • Journal title
    • Boston College Law Review

  • Volume
    • 50

  • Issue
    • 2

  • Pagination
    • 427

  • Date submitted

    6 September 2022