Own-it | Intellectual Property Know-How for Creative Businesses


I work in theatre: What do I need to know about IP?

Published 18.03.11 at 16:45

Copyright is an intellectual property right that applies automatically to all original theatrical performances, such as plays, musicals or ballets. These are known as 'dramatic works'. Any original musical scores, set designs, scripts or stage directions will also protected by copyright. The period of copyright protection lasts until the end of 70 years after the death of the creator of the work.

Authors of a dramatic work also have the moral right to be identified as the author and to object to any derogatory treatment of their work.

If you wish to reproduce or perform a play or musical production while it is protected by copyright, you should first seek permission from the copyright owners.

However, if a performance is being watched by students and teachers within a school, purely for the purpose of education, then you do not need to obtain the copyright owner's permission for that performance.

Performers of dramatic works also have rights in addition to those of the copyright owner. A performer's permission must always be sought before recording any live performances or making copies of that recording. A performer also has the right to control any broadcasts of their performances. Performers have the moral right to be identified as the performer and to object to any derogatory treatment of their performance.

Listen also to our podcast Back Stage: The IP behind the curtain.

Content supplied on behalf of Own-it by College of Law  students at the Moorgate Centre supervised by a lecturer at the College of Law's Moorgate Centre.

photograph by bulldog1 (supplied under a creative commons license)


Please note that this article discusses the legal position in the UK at the time of publication. It provides general information only but is not to be regarded as legal advice. You must take advice from a specialist lawyer in relation to your specific circumstances. Further, you should seek additional legal advice when dealing with parties based in other parts of the world or works originating from other parts of the world as the legal position may vary.


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