There have been some strange developments over the last few weeks in the Sequence Dancing world. It's not something I'm really involved in but feel the situation is worth comment.
Some of the major Youtube channels involved with the online tuition of sequence dancing have been closed down or threatened with closure for copyright infringement. Why? For showing sequence dances either as a walk through or danced to music. The International Sequence Dance Circle and Brockbank Lane Sequence Script Service have started to get a bit touchy about the sequence content on some of the Youtube channels.
This begs the question - What exactly can be copyrighted?
The script (the printed sheet with all the instructions to dance the choreography) is copyrighted - that's clear, but the content? The content that is constantly being used comes from the technique books that the major dance societies produce. The technique book we all work to!
There are some interesting articles available:
- which states "The Copyright Act itself does not even attempt to define a choreographic work. In one of the few cases to broach this topic, the Second Circuit acknowledges that “social dance steps and simple routines” are not copyrightable"
and perhaps just as interesting:
"The second requirement is one of record. You ask if it is sufficient for a choreographer to record his work "in written form". In principle the answer is yes but the notation must be capable of being understood, not just by its creator but by other choreographers of reasonable competence. There are certain well-known, standard methods of notation, such as the Laban or Benesh methods. It is, however, no use just scribbling incomprehensible lines and marks and comments on sheets of paper which no one but the person making the notes can understand or be made to understand."
And for me, that's where the problem lies. Even if the script has a copyright, most sequence dancers wouldn't be able to read and understand it so need to turn to an alternative medium to learn. And low and behold, as the youtube channels are being shut down, Brockbank Lane have introduced a video service (paid I might add!) to their website.
I will watch from the sidelines with interest as the battle rages on. One thing is certain, without the hard work and dedication of a few Youtube channel owners, the decline in Sequence dancing is certain to continue.