International Consortium of Line Dance Instructors
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                                      Legal Information for Dance Instructors





The ICLDI regularly consults an attorney for advice and guidance. Since our dance instructors are actively involved with the music industry, it's imperative that we remain knowledgeable about the revelant laws and regulations governing the music industry. Our members must use music - songs associated with the many dances that are being taught in the classes being offered to the public. The information presented is to offer some guidance and direction for dance instructors to research and understand.

                                       Performing Rights & Laws for Dancers l

Excerpt from an Article by Ne-Kajira Jannan, courtesy of

"First, unless a music composition is in public domain, it is considered protected by copyright. A musician/composer copyrights the score/composition he or she creates and can give permission to another person to use his or her score or lyrics for the purpose of recording a variation, a reproduced arrangement or a different arrangement of the score. This is called a Master Use License, and is usually obtained through such companies as the Harry Fox Agency. The composer/lyricist doesnot give permission for the performance of the score, nor can he/she give permission to dancers to perform to the score if the music is covered by one of the licensing agencies (ie BMI, ASCAP or SESAC). Artists who compose, copyright, record, and produce their own music and recordings cangive this permission and usually charge a fee for the use of their music.

Performing rights are held by one of three organizations: BMI, ASCAP or SESAC. Music is further protected under the 1988 Berne Convention and by the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT), a treaty with over 100 member nations. The GATT and the Berne Convention protect copyrights internationally. BMI, ASCAP and SESAC have reciprocal agreements with multiple nations, so it should never be assumed that music from another country is "free for using".

The three performing rights organizations (PRO’s) license establishments, studios, schools, universities and other businesses, including individuals. They license entities. A dance troupe that rents a hall and sells tickets for the express purpose of making a profit is an entity. A dance organization registered as a non-profit group that rents a hall and sells tickets, whether for the purposes of making a profit or no, is an entity. For the purpose of this article, we will use the word entity to represent all institutions, businesses or organizations that will employ or utilize dancers and dance instructors, including but not limited to studios, health clubs, restaurants, social/civic organizations, schools, and universities. The word entity will also apply to the group or individual who promotes events, festivals, showcases, production and shows."

                                                                 Facebook information.

"Under Facebook's Terms of Service and Community Standards, you can only postcontent to Facebook that doesn't violate someone else's intellectual property rights. ... Note: Facebook can't help you get permission to use copyrighted content. To learn more about copyright law, visit this section of the Facebook Help Center."

                                                                     Twitter information.

"There are four ways to share videos on Twitter:

  1. Record: You can record, edit and share videos from the Twitter app (Twitter for iPhone or Twitter for Android OS 4.1 and higher).
  2. Import: If you use the Twitter for iPhone or iPad app, you can import videos from your device.
  3. Upload: You can upload videos to
  4. Go live: Learn how to create a live video right from your Twitter app."

                                                Instructor's use of a business or group logo.

A logo is a presentation of textual material and visual imagery which presents a message to the public. Use of a creative logo in business presents or demonstrates a core service that is available. The use of a logo demonstrates several important characteristics of the instructor and the business service being offered. Several critical items can be achieved from the use of a logo, such as: commitment, branding, stability, confidence, professionalism, competence and success. 

When you purchase a logo that has been designed and created to your specifications, you own the logo. You have the legal right to use the logo based on your personal or business needs. You can obtain a trademark registry for your logo to obtain legal protection against any attempted infringement.

                                                       Important Legal Subject: Copyright.

What is copyright?

  • Copyright is the ownership of an intellectual property within the limits prescribed by a particular nation's or international law.  
  • Copyright is the exclusive legal right, given to an originator or an assignee, to print, publish, perform, film or record literary, artistic or musical material and to authroize others to do the same.

Why is copyright important?

  • Protects your work.
  • Makes you money.
  • Can last 50 years in the US.
  • Can be pased down to family members. 

What items can be copyrighted?

  • Names
  • Phrases
  • Facts
  • Fashion
  • Public Domains

                                                      Important Legal Subject: Risk Management.

There are some general thoughts regarding risk managment for entrepreneurs or independent dance consultants. If you host a dance class and charge participants who attend your class, you are considered an independent consultant. "Risk management involves protecting your legal rights, on the one hand, and avoiding the violation of others' legal rights (or statutes or regulations) on the other hand." It is recommended that if you are an instructor working as an independent consultant you should seek legal advise at least once. Legal advice involves the application of law to specific fact situations. Thus, you should retain an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction to provide advice and guidance. 

The Consortium feels it is imperative for the members to be aware of and knowledgeable about the many components included in offering dance instruction to the public. The legal presentation included in our Accelerated Instruction Certification Program is intended to provide information on the varied aspects of dance instruction and the potential risks involved. Accordingly, managing risk requires you to take time to consider what you're doing, what bad things can happen and what you can do to minimize the chance of such events causing damage.

The ICLDI feels strongly that all instructors should have insurance - An insurance policy allows a policyholder to limit its financial exposure for secified risks by shifting those risks to an insurance company. The insurance company receives a premium from the policyholder for accepting the risks covered by the policy. If you are a line dance instructor, you should consider obtaning insurance coverage. A policy may contain multiple types of coverage: for example, liability policy typically provides coverage for: 1) bodily injury and property damage liability; 2) personal and advertising injury liability and 3) medical payments. Better to be safe than sorry!

                             Dance Music Fact 1 - The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

RIAA is the trade organization that suppports and promotes the creative and financial vitality of the major music companies. Its members comprise the most vibrant record industry in the world. RIAA members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legitimate recorded music produced and sold in the United States.The RIAA works to protect the intellectual property and First Amendment rights of artists and music labels; conducts consumer, industry and technical research; and monitors and reviews state and Federal laws, regulations and policies.

Currently, the music industry is being negatively impacted by the latest IT inovations that allow the public to get access to much of the music for free. Thus, the musicians are losing money and are now looking for every opportunity to regain revenue for their artist talents. Accordingly, they have directed their legal staffs and advisors to stay in touch with and on top of all of the social media. So, all instructors are advised to be careful what you upload onto social media as you may be infringing on the musicians' rights. 

                                                                            Free Advice

1. If you have any specific questions about any legal matter related to your dancing initiatives, you should consult an attorney or other professional legal services provider.

2. You should never delay seeking legal advice, disregard legal service or commence or discontinue any legal action when you feel you have a serious legal issue.

3. The law is jurisdictinally based. The subject of business law is based by the Business & Professions Code in your state. All instructors who are providing dance services to the public and charging fees for such are bound by these codes. Make sure you know the details of such Codes in your state and local jurisdictions. 

4. Don't create a dvd or cd that contains the intellectual property of another without their permission.

                                                               Warning About Social Media

When you upload a video onto social media that contains copyrighted music, you are violating the copyright and intellectual property laws. Many dancers are uploading videos to social media and adding language that states: "they are not trying to infringe on the protected rigths of the musician who owns the music......". This statement is insufficient; you are not protected just because such language was added to the video presentation. You can still be subject to legal action being taken against you by the owner of the music rights.

                                                                Business Development Facts

Regardless of how the dance instructor feels about the formalities of a business operation, if the instructor is teaching and receiving financial payments, they are operating a business entitiy. As a dance instructor, one can enjoy having your own hours, being your own boss and keeping or earning the class earnings. These issues are the biggest rewards and considerations of owning your own class/business. However, starting such an operation is a serious undertaking and inevitably comes with some challenges/hurdles. It takes commitment, desire and most of all, the will to work. However, since you really like to dance and teach, hosting and teaching your own line dance class can be an incredibly rewarding expereince. When you take the AICP Level 1 course offered by the ICLDI, you will learn the basics of how to move forward in your teaching business effectively.

                                                        Business Development Techncial Assistance

Learn all that you can about the requirements for establishing a small business. Visit: You can also obtain critical information about "how to start" a business by contacting the Small Business or Minority Business Enterprise Office in your State government. These organizations will provide you with business guidance and assistance for free.

Good Business Tips and Guidance

  • Do what you know
  • Don't quit your day job
  • Get a coach - do your homework
  • Offer what people want
  • Get customers before you open the door
  • Get a cash flow asap
  • Focus on sales and marketing
  • Find ways to increase profits
  • Test and measure everything
  • Know that learning more equals earning more