Animal Handler’s Performance CAPS a difficult case

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Animal Handler’s Performance CAPS a difficult case

June 13th, 2016, Blog
Animal Handler’s

An interesting case from May 2016, not only because of the privacy injunction that was sought, but also because of the comments as to what can constitute a performance for the purposes of protection under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

This case concerned the right to prevent a performer’s live performance being recorded and exploited without their permission.

The types of performances were divided into two classes. Firstly there was the situation where the animals perform tricks on the handler’s command. Unsurprisingly, the handler was deemed to be giving a performance even though he concentrated mainly on instructing the animals. The trainer here is in a similar position to an orchestra conductor, who undoubtedly qualifies for performer’s rights.  Indeed, in this case, without the trainer the animals would just wander around.

Secondly, there was the situation where a handler stood by the animal whilst talking to the audience about that animal. Again it was held that this could constitute a performance. The animal was only a prop used during the talk, which was said to be well prepared and rehearsed. It was the handler’s performance that was key and so should qualify as a performance.

The case concerned unusual situations for the consideration of performer’s rights, but by analysing the actual performance and comparing the roles to those those more commonly associated with performer’s rights it can be seen that the decision is not as radical as might first be thought.

The claimant,Amazing Animals is involved in the professional training and supplying of a wide range of animals for the media industry. It has open days for public.

The Captive Animals Protection Society (CAPS) used photographs and video clips taken at a Heythrop Zoo open day in a publication on its website alleging that the animals were treated inhumanely

An individual from CAPS had visited the zoo on one of its occasional open days and bought an entry ticket. Some videos and photographs were taken of animals some showed a performance featuring a trainer and an animal doing tricks.

The claimant claimed breach of contract, breach of confidentiality, and breach of non-property performer’s rights and sought an interim injunction to restrain the continuing use of the photographs and video by CAPs.

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