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MARTHA GRAHAM CENTER ENTITLED TO COPYRIGHT TO 45 DANCES CHOREOGRAPHED BY MARTHA GRAHAM, COURT RULES

Source: Arts Wire CURRENT, a project of Arts Wire, a program of the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) -- http://www.nyfa.org

NEW YORK CITY, NY -- United States District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum has ruled the Martha Graham Dance Center and the Martha Graham Dance Company are entitled to a declaration of ownership of copyright to 45 dances choreographed by Martha Graham. The ruling found that the plaintiff, Ronald Protas, is only entitled to a declaration of ownership for the renewal term of copyright in one dance, "Seraphic Dialogue", and that neither side has established ownership of copyright in 24 dances. (some of which are in public domain)

"We rejoice that the decision comes just as we are making plans for our Joyce Theater season and tour," the NEW YORK TIMES quotes Francis Mason, chairman of the Graham board, as saying. "We're all wound up and ready. And this permits us to go ahead as we hoped we would."

Between 1956 and her death in 1991, Martha Graham was employed by the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance and the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, two not-for-profit corporations that operated as a combined entity. During that 35-year period, Graham created many dances with the members of the Martha Graham Dance Company and the students and teachers at the School.

Protas had sought to enjoin the Center from performing dances choreographed by Graham which he, as her heir, claimed to own.

The Center argued that Graham did not own the dances because in some cases the rights had been assigned to the Center and in others Graham had choreographed them as "work for hire" while she was an employee of the Center.

The 45 dances which the Martha Graham Dance Company can now perform are: "Tanagra", "Three Gopi Maidens", "Harlequinade", "Primitive Mysteries", "Serenade", "Satyric Festival Song", "Dream", "Saraband", "Imperial Gesture", "Deep Song", "Every Soul is a Circus", "El Penitente", "Letter to the World", "Punch and the Judy", "Salem Shore", "Deaths and Entrances", "Eye of Anguish", "Ardent Song", "Embattled Garden", "Episodes: Part I", "Acrobats of God", "Phaedra", "Secular Games", "Legend of Judith", "The Witch of Endor", "Part Real-Part Dream", "Cortege of Eagles", "Plain of Prayer", "Mendicants of Evening", "Jacob's Ladder", "Lucifer", "The Scarlet Letter", "O Thou Desire Who Art About to Sing", "Shadows", "The Owl and the Pussycat", "Ecuatorial", "Frescoes", "Judith", "Andromache's Lament", "Phaedra's Dream", "Song", "Tangled Night", "Persephone", "Maple Leaf Rag", and "The Eyes of the Goddess."

In another component of the case, in January of 2001, Protas filed suit against the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance to enjoin the Graham Center from using the names "Martha Graham" or "Martha Graham Technique", but last August, Judge Cedarbaum affirmed the right of the Center and School to continue using Graham's name and teaching Graham's technique as they have for approximately 50 years.

Sources/resources:

FINDLAW -- http://news.findlaw.com
THE MARTHA GRAHAM SCHOOL AND DANCE FOUNDATION, INC. and RONALD A. PROTAS, individually and as Trustee of the Martha Graham Trust Plaintiffs, OPINION vs MARTHA GRAHAM CENTER OF CONTEMPORARY DANCE, INC. and MARTHA GRAHAM SCHOOL OF CONTEMPORARY DANCE, INC.
Defendants
FINDLAW -- http://news.findlaw.com/hdocs/docs/copyright/protasgraham82302opn.pdf

Jennifer Dunning
"Martha Graham Center Wins Rights to the Dances"
THE NEW YORK TIMES -- http://www.nytimes.com
August 24, 2002

"Martha Graham Center and School Win Decision to Retain Use of Martha Graham's Name"
Arts Wire CURRENT -- http://www.artswire.org/current/2001/cur082801.html
August 28, 2001


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