Copyright Law affects all Drama teachers, students and educators. Anyone who has anything to do with a play – be it photocopying the text for class, performing it in front of an audience, or wanting to change the language. All of these actions fall under copyright law.
Copyright is a bundle of intellectual property rights that protect works of artistic expression such as art, music, and plays. To qualify for protection, the work has to originate with an author, be original and not a copy. The work must be the product of creative effort, and the author must use skill. That means the play you’re doing is probably protected by copyright.
Reproduction, public performances, publication, adaptation/editing/modification (i.e. derivative works), and translation. You can’t do any of the above without permission. This includes photocopying, performance, cuts for time, gender changes, changes to the text.
70 years (USA) or 50 (Canada) after the death of the author. George Bernard Shaw is free from copyright in Canada but not in the US.
Works in the domain of the public. That’s you! Public Domain works are not protected by copyright. You can reproduce them, perform them, adapt and translate them. Download free Public Domain plays on Project Gutenberg.
The script, the set design, the choreography and sometimes the lighting design. The choreography you saw in another production is protected by copyright, so create your own.
Wrong. The script is protected from public performances. This includes any public performance: a free show, an invited dress, a preview, a competition.
Only if you’re creating an original work of your own. If you’re using text from the original, you could be considered to be creating a derivative work. And that belongs to the original creator.
Click here for a printable version: Copyright for Drama Teachers Cheat Sheet
Did you know that the Drama Teacher Academy has a full course on Copyright for Drama Teachers? Click here to learn more about how you can join!