fri 25/09/2020

The ROH's Create contract tells the truth about the rights grab | reviews, news & interviews

The ROH's Create contract tells the truth about the rights grab

The ROH's Create contract tells the truth about the rights grab

After Monday's report on the Royal Opera House’s new contract demands, a young composer alerted theartsdesk to an intriguing offer on the Covent Garden website - to "Create" a soundtrack for dance. This is a competition for new talent which will be judged by a team led by Deborah Bull, the ROH’s Creative Director: the winning entries to be shown at the ROH in November as part of the FIRSTS 2010 festival.


Create invites any composer over the age of 12 to create a new piece of music to short films of excerpts of existing choreography by two of the ROH’s associates, Will Tuckett and Wayne McGregor. These can be viewed (stripped of their original music) on YouTube.

People taking part in Create are invited to do whatever they like with the given film to go with their music ideas – cut it up, shorten, add, put in their own visuals. It’s also suggested that it will be all right to use someone else’s music as a starting point, provided permission is asked. The finished entries are also to be uploaded on YouTube where they might be changed or remixed by someone else as their starting point – and entrants must agree to that happening to their work. You may or may not think these possibilities are a new departure from the accepted standard of work at the Royal Opera House.

But the composer then also alerted theartsdesk to the accompanying terms and conditions - which have set alarm bells ringing. Within the two pages of the normal detail of how to enter, who can enter, who can’t and so on, there are three paragraphs which should stop any person who hopes that their fortune may be made by entering Create.

In Paragraph 9, entrants have to agree that the ROH has an exclusive licence to use the entries in any media for the purposes of the competition: they can broadcast them as much as they like on radio, stream them on the internet, make new copies and recordings.

In Paragraph 18, entrants have to agree to give to the ROH all the permissions they need “to make the fullest use of your contribution throughout the world in perpetuity, in all media, without liability or acknowledgement by the Royal Opera House and any persons appointed by us”.

And in Paragraph 19, not only does the ROH say they will be entitled to edit, change, adapt and do anything else they want to the entries as they think fit, but also “in respect of your contribution, you irrevocably waive the benefits of and agree not to assert any provision of law known as ‘moral rights’ or any similar laws of any jurisdiction”.

In Monday's article we reported that contracts for Education work and for ROH2 were no longer open for negotiation, that the ROH will take all rights in any work they commission. These Terms and Conditions make it very clear what they mean by this.

These terms, we understand, are exactly the matter at the heart of the stand-off between creatives and the ROH as reported on theartsdesk on Monday: it is feared that the ROH now wants to have these clauses in contracts for clients with established reputations as well. Even concepts such as mutual agreement for whatever usage might be planned, or the creatives’ ability to audition any adaptations to their work for the media before it goes on air or whatever are resisted.

And as far as Create is concerned, the most telling comment from one lawyer is that any licence and any rights should be limited to this festival only. Not in perpetuity, in all media, throughout the world, and without liability or acknowledgement.

See for yourself on the Royal Opera House Create web page (you need to download the Terms and Conditions from the right-hand panel)

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Pretty shocking, considering how young, inexperienced and naive most of the people entering that competition would be!

I emailed them to say that I could not agree to these terms and so would not enter. No reply.

Surely it's also time a proper explanation of copyright became part of the school curriculum? Because of this kind of thing and also because anyone can become his or her own publisher now on the internet.

That new contract is way way too harsh. Basically, the contract says that because someone enters the competetion - then they own the rights to their songs...that is really theft at broad daylight. Surely, if the right to use their song - without any adaptions - was limited to promoting the ROH for that event and any subsequent - but this goes way braoder by ROH can make all the royalties from the song. Thing if I go to or some socail media website like facebook or a video website - then these sites suddenly owned MY copyright to MY song?? ....and what if I uploaded my song to 20 different sites that each "owned" the copyright to my song - who owns my song then? not cool.

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