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Information: Performance of a Dramatic Work

Copyright in a dramatic work lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years.

The first owner of the copyright is normally the author (unless copyright has been assigned or the author created the work in the course of his/her employment).

Performance of a dramatic work in public without the permission of the copyright owner is an act restricted by copyright.

The copyright owner has the exclusive right to perform, show or play the dramatic work in public.

In practice this means that anyone, whether commercial, not for profit or amateur needs the permission of the author and/or his/her agents before they can perform the work. Where permission is granted by the author or their agent it is normally in the form of a licence.

The script of a dramatic work is protected as a literary work and permission from the author or their agent are needed before copies can be made. Again there are limited circumstances in which copies can be made without the permission of the author. These come under the ‘fair dealing’ section of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. However, these sections should be interpreted careful as the circumstances in which they apply are narrowly drawn and an acknowledgement of the copyright owner should always be included.

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