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Avenue Q puppet Hire Uk only £795  (Read 10459 times)
eddiedredge
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« on: July 23, 2014, 05:04:50 pm »

Hi all,

Great group. very informative. I just wanted to list our set of puppets with you. We have found a real lack of good quality and affordable puppets and know that many company are unable to perform Avenue Q because of the cost implication. So we are hiring out our set for only £795 a week and trying to spread the word.

Our site is http://avenueqpuppets.co.uk,

Hopefully they may be of interest to anyone doing the show.

Many thanks

Eddie Dredge
jeezbo
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2014, 06:16:44 am »

Sounds cool, what sort of licence do you have to be able to hire out Avenue Q replicas though, I thought that there where some weird terms out there that prohibited anyone making profit from replicas? or maybe its just Muppet replicas that it stands for!!
Good luck anyway, I'm sure there will be a lot of companies wanting to hire your beautifully made Avenue Q puppets for their productions!!
Shawn Sorrell
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2014, 06:34:03 am »

I'm not sure there are restrictions on the Avenue Q puppets. Normally yes like you said with the Muppets or even Disney characters, someone can not make a replica and then rent it out but this is a theater script that has been released by the original producers.  So no different really then a costume shop which offers a packages for rent of the costumes for a particular show. The only real restriction or a puppet in a Broadway musical that I know of was Sister Marionette in the Nunsens musicals, but even that was only on the original design itself. There where radically different design offered by other puppeteers for the show that where offered that many productions preferred and rented.

Thought we had talked some about licensing before... http://puppetsandstuff.com/community/index.php?topic=6663.0
« Last Edit: July 25, 2014, 06:54:26 am by Shawn Sorrell »
Na
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« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2014, 11:16:08 am »

Sounds cool, what sort of licence do you have to be able to hire out Avenue Q replicas though, I thought that there where some weird terms out there that prohibited anyone making profit from replicas? or maybe its just Muppet replicas that it stands for!!
Good luck anyway, I'm sure there will be a lot of companies wanting to hire your beautifully made Avenue Q puppets for their productions!!


Copyrights differ from country to country, but most countries 'share' legality - if they've signed the Berne Convention then what is copyrighted in the US is given the same/similar copyrights in the UK. I've found the US website for copyrights to be the most informative, but note that it will not necessarily cover the same issues/laws as elsewhere:
http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/

"Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section"

Basically, a puppet design would come under these copyrights - IANAL, this is just my impression - even if the technique of building can't itself be copyrighted.

The only reason Muppet replicas come up a lot is because, a) if you're going to buy a recognisable puppet character 9/10 it will be The Muppets or Sesame Street, and b) there are plenty of people who make replicas for themselves as a hobby, and c) there will be some people who will do it for profit. And d) actually - it will appear in the media because no one cares if mine or any 'unknown' puppeteer's work gets ripped off. (It gets more complicated because in the US, you need to have a creative work registered officially - even though copyrights are 'assigned' automatically - to be able to sue infringers. This may not necessarily apply to other countries)

In other words, whoever makes the puppet, whether it be Jim Henson, Shawn, myself, or the person down the road, if their design is original it will be copyrighted; how that person chooses to assert their rights is up to them. Some people will happily share their design freely, some people will want attribution, some people will want a royalty paid.

I really don't know the legalities of rentals outside of that, so as in all cases: best bet is to talk to a lawyer and/or the licensing agency for the musical. I suspect that there will be some sort of clause that allows people to hire out puppets or to make their own, for the purposes of performing the musical.

It'd be really nice if someone had access to such contracts to post more info about how it works. I'm rather curious myself.
Na
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« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2014, 11:31:04 am »

I'm not sure there are restrictions on the Avenue Q puppets. Normally yes like you said with the Muppets or even Disney characters, someone can not make a replica and then rent it out but this is a theater script that has been released by the original producers.

That's not exactly right - there are the same 'restrictions' on Avenue Q as with all other designs. It's just that there are no Muppet musicals (IIRC, there may be one musical out there for high schools?) regularly performed by pros and amateurs, and therefore no one would find it profitable to make and hire the puppets - particularly given Disney's penchant for suing those who do.

(Note to self and others: you know who is up to their old tricks again. I've been meaning to snail mail a letter to Disney about it...)

The confusion with copyrights lies within the fact that the owner can do what they want with them, which means one person can be strict about their rights and another can be more lax... and this leads people to think that copyrights are only applicable to certain companies or designs. As I said above, the more likely explanation is that the producers of Avenue Q/Rick Lyon have elected to assign some of their copyrights over to other producers within the remit of performing said musical.

In terms of actual literature, it's the difference between writing a play and only allowing your own company to perform it; and writing a play and requesting other people pay a fee (as price of permission) to perform it. In the former case Disney quite clearly owns their copyrights fully and refuses permission to others even for a fee; in the latter case the Avenue Q producers have likely given permission to make and use the puppets within the context of royalty-paid use of their scripts and songs. I expect that if Avenue Q saw that their designs were used by say, Coca Cola, within an ad that totally ignored the provenance and personality of the characters, Coke would be seeing a cease and desist from a lawyer. Because that's the other part of copyrights: you can assign permission for any number of reasons, in whole or in part, to whomever you want and even revoke the permission later.

It's all really rather more complicated and not as black and white as that, which is why I'm curious to know more about the legalities of hiring out characters. If you hire out to someone who does not have permission to perform the musical, are you liable? (I suspect not as much as the hiree as they are the ones needing to obtain permission to perform in the first place)

There is also the fact that a lot of people simply ignore or don't know about copyrights, and it's just too costly to go after all of them. Which is another reason why there's so much confusion. Disney just has more money and more lawyers at their disposal. Avenue Q likely do not.
DrPuppet
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2014, 02:27:01 pm »

Actually I know a few people who have done Avenue Q and the provisions in a script according to them actually said they have the option of leasing the original puppets from Rick Leon or they have the option of making their own or renting other puppets. I guess they're much more open to letting people use different characters than other productions.
Na
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« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2014, 05:19:36 pm »

Actually I know a few people who have done Avenue Q and the provisions in a script according to them actually said they have the option of leasing the original puppets from Rick Leon or they have the option of making their own or renting other puppets. I guess they're much more open to letting people use different characters than other productions.


Thanks, that's handy to know. I think for the most part allowing people to use their own or to rent is going to be a pragmatic approach to allowing people to perform their show with puppets. Rick Lyon priced his puppets at $10 000 per puppet*, and I'd imagine hiring them out to people would be rather too expensive (hence this thread). I'd also imagine only hiring them out one show at a time would be problematic given the worldwide nature of obtaining the rights to the musical. So allowing people to rent or make is sensible. My question is more: do you require permission in order to make them for rental in the first place?

*Source: http://images.businessweek.com/ss/06/06/sb_myoffice/10.htm
DrPuppet
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2014, 05:40:27 pm »

I agree his prices are not practical for average community theatre group.  I think they realize that.  Im sure the larger organizations use his puppets so they advertise having the actual ones im sure that's a big selling point.
Na
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« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2014, 06:33:44 pm »

I agree his prices are not practical for average community theatre group.  I think they realize that.  Im sure the larger organizations use his puppets so they advertise having the actual ones im sure that's a big selling point.

Yes - I know the professional tour in Australia used Rick's puppets. I don't recall them advertising that though, I only know because I happened to interview the (Aussie) director. I think for the professional performances they want his work simply because of the higher chance of consistency between them and the originals. -- Not to put down anyone else's work of course.
DrPuppet
« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2014, 06:35:15 pm »

No of course not I'll let you have the public in front of you it's very difficult to duplicate a puppets even one that's amore simplistic style. Look at Kermit he is one of the most basic puppets out there but very difficult to replicate effectively without alot of trail and error
DrPuppet
« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2014, 06:35:40 pm »

Puppet not public sorry
Na
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« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2014, 07:27:39 pm »

No of course not I'll let you have the public in front of you it's very difficult to duplicate a puppets even one that's amore simplistic style. Look at Kermit he is one of the most basic puppets out there but very difficult to replicate effectively without alot of trail and error

Yes, I agree. But obviously for Avenue Q purposes, hiring outside work is far more palatable for a local group's budget. Plus I think a lot of people just want to try their hands at making the puppets themselves, much like how Audreys are built for Little Shop of Horrors. I think it probably adds something new and fun to those performing the show - it's not just sets and props and costumes you get to find and make but also puppets! It gets possibly old hands and new to try something that they usually wouldn't get to try.
DrPuppet
« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2014, 07:30:46 pm »

I agree completely!
Andrew
« Reply #13 on: August 08, 2014, 01:54:40 am »

I'm coming in to this discussion a bit late, but Rick actually addressed this issue at a talk he did last year at the PofA National Festival.

He does apparently own the rights to the character designs as part of his overall deal for Avenue Q. My understanding from his comments was that you can legally rent from him, or build your own as DrPuppet mentioned, BUT without a licensing deal you cannot use the original designs and have to redesign the characters from scratch. At least a few professional productions that didn't rent from him seem to respect his rights and do that. Most apparently don't.

Since the show rights and character rights appear to be separate, a production that rented or built derivative puppets without rights for the character likenesses is technically committing copyright infringement...even if they have a paid license to perform the show. Whether it would result in a lawsuit is another matter entirely of course (also, I am not a lawyer).
 
There are similar issues with a lot of other popular shows, like the Little Prince (although technically in the public domain, the famous character designs are international trademarks owned by the publisher who aggressively protects them), anything based on Beatrix Potter (ditto), The Wizard of Oz (MGM owns many elements from the movie like the Ruby Red Slippers that did not originate with the original book) and the Hobbit (you can make a Smaug if you stage it, but your Smaug can't look like Weta's).

This is why a lot of companies will rent a character puppet like Audrey II using their own original design. Even then, the rental market for shows like "Little Shop" and "Avenue Q" is a bit of legal grey area. In fact, just using the name "Avenue Q" to market rental services could possibly be trademark infringement (although, surprisingly enough, there doesn't seem to be a trademark for "Avenue Q" on file with the UK intellectual property office).

I hate to say it, but Eddie's puppets are clearly derivative so unless he's made some kind of licensing/royalty deal with Rick, this is probably a clear cut case copyright infringement, unintentional or otherwise.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2014, 02:21:02 am by Andrew »
Na
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« Reply #14 on: August 09, 2014, 03:04:21 am »

Thanks Andrew, that's ve-ery interesting. Two thoughts come to my mind: I assumed that both character and performance rights would have been automatically linked together and I was apparently wrong to think that; and I am now wondering how many rental companies out there are verging on or outright infringing on copyrights because of the confusion involved with how rights are licensed, and are quite possibly only getting away with it because it goes unnoticed and it's expensive to police.

I wonder also if it's one of those things where it becomes a cultural thing. Think of the Coca Cola santa. Red suit and white beard is totally their invention, and yet it's now so ubiquitously associated with Christmas that it's possibly reached a tipping point where copyrights are not entirely a feasible concept. That is, it's so well-known and used within society that there's almost no point in attempting to keep the copyrights to yourself. A double-edged sword of design. Make something so it becomes synonymous with an event/whatever, but once it does you kind of lose all ability to control how that image is used.

... Just some thoughts out loud.
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