Music Theater International is a licensing agency providing official scripts, librettos and musical scores for local theater groups in New York and across the world. Because of MTI’s services, communities that would otherwise have little opportunity to see popular Broadway shows can have a taste of the experience. Perhaps more importantly, those who enjoy performing can participate in quality shows with wide appeal. MTI protects the intellectual property of the authors and composers of these shows, and this promotes creativity and artistic expression.
Unfortunately, not everyone appreciates that the creators of musical theater have a right to their share of royalties for performances of their work. One community theater that offers children’s workshops as well as musical productions in several states has refused to pay MTI for the shows it performs. MTI claims the group, called Theaterpalooza Community Theater Productions, Inc., has performed more than 16 Broadway musicals without obtaining the proper licensing from MTI.
Theaterpalooza also has three more MTI-represented shows planned for this summer. The group typically charges $600 tuition for children to participate in their workshops and up to $15 a ticket for performances. Despite numerous notices from MTI for payment and requests that the group cease using unlicensed musicals, Theaterpalooza allegedly refuses to pay and continues to unlawfully advertise the upcoming performances.
MTI has reluctantly decided to pursue legal action against Theaterpalooza, seeking its share of the profits from all unauthorized performances, plus interest and court costs. While a lawsuit against a community theater organization is not the preferred course of action for a group that promotes performing arts, those at MTI feel they have exhausted every other option. New York artists may reach this point when others infringe on their intellectual property. With the help of an attorney, they may be able to obtain a satisfying resolution.