Protection of the Rights of Performers

Performers include any individuals whose performance consists in the interpretation of copyrighted works of arts (e.g. an actor reads a text, a dancer performs a choreography, a singer sings a song). Most often performers include actors, singers, dancers, musicians, conductors or theatre directors. Acrobats are also considered performers even though they do not perform a copyrighted work of art. Performers do not include technical, production and administrative staff such as an artistic, operational or technical manager, make-up artists, wig stylist, technicians or sound engineers or lighting technicians. The outcome of the work of make-up artists, wig stylists and sometimes even sound engineers or lighting technicians may amount to copyrighted work under certain conditions (provided that their work is creative and unique).

Artistic performance enjoys a similar degree of protection as copyrighted works; performers hold absolute rights to their work. Performers enjoy moral and economic rights similar, but not identical, to the rights of authors. Economic rights of performers include, without limitation, their exclusive right to communicate the performance to the public, to make an audio, visual or audiovisual recording of such a performance, make the performance accessible online or broadcast it. For joint performance of a single work (e.g. by an orchestra, choir or dancing group), the economic rights are exercised through a single person called a common representative of the artistic ensemble (e.g. a choir leader) and a collective license to the performance is granted.


A businessman, who sells video recordings, makes a recording of a Czech “New Circus” performance on its own account and at its own cost to distribute it. Actors, dancers and acrobats from a number or countries participate in the performance. What will be the contract with Czech and foreign artists like?

Unless the dancing group has a joint representative, the terms will have to be agreed and a license agreement entered into with every single Czech and foreign artist. If the dancing group has a joint representative (e.g. leader), the license agreement may be entered with this representative only whereby the rights of all the performing artists (both Czech and foreign) will be settled at the same time.

The license agreement(s) must define which rights (of whom) have been settled (whether only the rights of the dancers - performers, or also author’s rights, i.e. the rights of the author of the choreography, rights of the costumes designer, rights of the composer of the incidental music, rights of the author of dancing stage design etc..). Subsequently, a right to make an audiovisual recording of the artistic performance (or the copyrighted works as mentioned above) forming part of the dancing performance will be agreed and the technical platform used will be specified (e.g. a DVD). Then, it is specified in what time frame, in what quantity and where (specific countries) the DVD will be distributed. If it has been agreed that the recording will also be available online (for download or for on-line streaming), a right to communicate the digital version of the work to the public must also be agreed: anyone may access it at a time and at a place they choose through their computer network either by downloading the digital reproductions for personal use and/or by online streaming without the possibility to download the digital reproductions of the recording for personal use. Last but not least, the compensation must be agreed (either a flat fee or a percentage fee), its amount, due date and payment and invoicing terms. Now, all essential requirements for a valid license agreement have been met.