Can I sue for creative property?

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Can I sue for creative property?

I am a choreographer who was helping out a school program that did not pay me for the rights to the dances I did for them. Now they are trying to use my work for personal gain at a competition and I have told them they are not allowed to use any of my pieces. So they have cut off contact with me. If the director still has them use my creative property, against my will, without having paid for it, can I sue them? I used to teach at the school but I do not any longer. And I was never the teacher of the group in question; I only volunteered to help them out. I can prove all the dances are mine.

Asked on February 11, 2012 under Business Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The question is whether they were supposed to pay you or not. If you were a volunteer and there was no specific agreement to pay you for the choreography, then they do not have to pay you--if you volunteered to choreograph for them, they may have the rights to use the dances you created or at least provided to them, since you provided the choreography in the course of performing volunteer work.

If there was any agreement that they pay you for the work and they did not, then they would not have the right to use it, due to their breach. Or if there was any agreement otherwise limiting their right to use  the choreography--e.g. they could only use it one time; they could only use it as long as you were involved in the project; etc.--that would be enforoceable. Thus, the critical issue is what was the agreement in place when you provided this choreography?


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