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Pantomimes and choreographic works

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This category was first added to the list of copyrightable subject matter in the 1976 Copyright Act. Congress declined to define the terms pantomimes and choreographic works, relying instead on "fairly settled meanings."[1] While pantomimes and choreographic works, such as dances, can be fixed in a series of drawings or notations, they are usually fixed on film or videotape.

As the U.S. Copyright Office has noted:

Choreography and pantomimes are also copyrightable dramatic works. Choreography is the composition and arrangement of dance movements and patterns usually intended to be accompanied by music. As distinct from choreography, pantomime is the art of imitating or acting out situations, characters, or other events. To be protected by copyright, pantomimes and choreography need not tell a story or be presented before an audience. Each work, however, must be fixed in a tangible medium of expression from which the work can be performed. Note: Sports games and physical-fitness exercises are not considered choreographic works.[2]


  1. See H.R. Rep. No. 1476, 94th Cong., 2d Sess. 55 (1976), at 53, reprinted in 1976 U.S.C.C.A.N. 5666-67.
  2. U.S. Copyright Office, Pantomime and Choreographic Works (full-text).

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