This month’s Dancing Times has an article by Natalie Wheen on the issue of rights to creative work, prompted by recent goings on at the ROH. It’s one of the best things I’ve read on that subject in a long time, and so refreshing to see someone have the balls to challenge the usual managerial view that you should just acquire all the rights, all the time, and let the artist go hang. The DT article is a condensed version of ‘Rights Grab at the Royal Opera House’ at artsdesk.com
The ROH have denied some of the facts of Wheen’s article, and I’m inclined to believe them: I can’t imagine that they could operate exclusively in the style she describes for very long. But the points she makes are no less valid, and no less necessary to be iterated, particularly when they have relevance to organizations like the ROH. As someone has pointed out in the comments on the piece, what about things like educationalists – does their work ‘belong’ to their employer, because it was created in their employment? There was a time when we wouldn’t even have thought about such things, but as creative work and intellectual property are becoming some of the only work and property left to have, ownership and exploitation of ideas is becoming a big deal.