Concerts on the Square is a very complicated event from a legal perspective of copyright.
Wednesday evening marks the sixth and final Concert on the Square of the 2007 season, the 24th year of free outdoor pops from the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. And while patrons, who arrive as early as 3 p.m., drag along lawn chairs, blankets and often elaborate picnic setups, some items are strictly forbidden.
Some might be surprised that, although occurring on the most public of places in Madison, concert goers are warned against using any recording devices, including video cameras, at the concerts. "Audio and video recording of Concerts on the Square are strictly prohibited," directs the orchestra in its guide on concert etiquette.
"We have the policy because we're affliated with the American Federation of Musicians," explains Bob Sorge, executive director of the WCO. "Our agreement with them prohibits the recording or rebroadcast of any of our performances without the express written consent of the union, and in many cases an appropriate compensation to musicians." This request, he says, is standard issue for any performance where the artists request patrons not to record without prior consent.
Attendees have and do record video at Concerts on the Square, though, particularly in these days of inexpensive digital recording technology and a robust online video sharing culture.
For example, here is one video clip, shot from the middle of Pinckney Street capturing the orchestra's performance of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture at it's July 4 concert, complete with the requisite simulated cannon blasts from the roof of the Isthmus offices.