I’m often asked how we stop people from performing or copying our plays without permission. The short answer is that we can’t. We can no more stop someone from photocopying a book as we can stop them from taking a candy bar from the 7-11. If someone’s going to steal, they are going to steal.
I’m not saying that we keep our heads in the sand and ignore illegal productions. If we find an infringement we pursue it. And we make sure that copyright/royalty information is readily available. We are clear that performances of our plays incur a royalty. When someone does a play without paying royalties they are knowingly breaking the law.
To be honest, it hurts to find infringements. It hurts because I know how hard our writers work to craft their plays. It hurts because someone is taking money from their pockets. It hurts because I don’t like confrontation and I don’t like thinking of theatre makers as thieves.
Stealing from a playwright is like peeing in your own pool. You’ll probably get away with it but you’re victimizing everyone in the community. Seth Godin’s recent blog post eloquently summarizes exactly how this all works. It all comes down to community.
The upside is that the overwhelming majority of productions of our plays are done legally. We have a wonderful community of customers that support our work, understand our role, appreciate what we do, and use the exercises and free resources we make available.
To our community, I give thanks. You guys are awesome and we love each and every one of you.