Copyright Compendium

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Chapter 2100
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Chapter 2300
Chapter 2400

1908.1 Performing a Work of Authorship

1908.1 Performing a Work of Authorship


Section 101 of the Copyright Act states that performing a work of authorship means “to recite, render, play, dance, or act [the work], either directly or by means of any device or process or, in the case of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to show its images in any sequence or to make the sounds accompanying it audible.” 17 U.S.C. § 101.

Reading a literary work aloud, singing or playing music, dancing a ballet or other choreographic work, or acting out a dramatic work or pantomime clearly falls within the scope of this definition. Likewise, showing portions of a motion picture, filmstrip, or slide presentation in sequential order or playing a motion picture sound track clearly qualifies as a performance of that work. See H.R. REP. NO. 94-1476, at 63-64 (1976), reprinted in 1976 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 5677.