Minnie Renwood - Judicial Decision

Judicial Decision

United States Circuit Court Judge Lancombe ruled against an injunction filed by dancer Loie Fuller to prevent Renwood from performing the serpentine dance on the roof of Madison Square Garden, in June 1892. Fuller had originated the dance, which she contended that she retained the exclusive right to perform because she held its copyright. In denying the injunction Lancombe stated it is essential to such a composition that it should tell the same story. The plot may be simple it may be but narrative, or a representation of a single transaction, but it must repeat or mimic some action, speech, emotion, passion, or character, real or imaginary. When it does, its ideas thus expressed become subject of copyright. He concluded by saying that the serpentine dance was only intended to impress the audience with the concept of a comely woman illustrating the poetry of motion in a singularly graceful fashion, and while such an idea may be pleasing, it can hardly be dramatic. Motion for preliminary injunction denied. A central point of his ruling was Lancombe's statement that the mere mechanical movements by which effects are produced on the stage are not subjects of copyright.

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