Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2015

Publication Citation

5 IP Theory 81


Do performers have rights in the expressive works they help to create? Historically, the rights of performers have received far less attention that the rights of traditional authors. The law has been reluctant to recognize performers as authors and, to the extent that performers’ rights are recognized, they are secondary to, and more limited than, the rights of traditional authors. Recent developments, however, have brought performers’ intellectual property rights to the forefront. For a number of reasons, performers in the United States have increasingly begun to assert authorship rights in the works they help to create. In addition, recent international treaties to which the United States is a signatory have set minimum standards for the protection of performers’ rights, separate from rights of authorship. Because of these developments, Congress and the courts will soon face greater pressure to clarify the rights that performers enjoy in the products of their creative efforts. It is not clear, however, whether they will be up to the task.



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