Kriss Ravetto-Biagioli introduces the article ‘Whose Dance Is It Anyway?: Property, Copyright and the Commons‘
Until recently, dance was not considered to warrant copyright protection because it existed only as a live performance that was not fixed in a ‘tangible medium of expression’. Not being an object, it could not be property. But the more we try to fold dance into existing modes of copyright and conventional notions of property, the more it resists, upsetting the core assumptions of Locke’s social contract theory. Legal scholars argue that the expansion of copyright protection shrinks the public domain. While copyright has become more important for dancers and choreographers who wish to control the appropriation of their work that is now made available to millions of end-users online, it also potentially restricts them from engaging in a dialog with other dancers or building on inspiring dance moves across communities. This paper investigates notions of property that rely on both the commons and individual personhood in the context of dance.