Copyright is not a passive act.

Copyright Advocacy

"Art is a joy, and art is something I do because I love it, but I also make a living from writing songs...when you share copies [of songs] that you have with other people, you're depriving people like me of our livelihood."- Mindi Dickstein


Copyright Advocacy Month may be over, but copyright is not a passive act. Download our curated list of materials, and watch our videos, and read our articles to learn exactly what copyright means, how it benefits theatrical writers, and what you can do to protect your copyright. Become an expert in copyright, and learn how it affects your career.


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The Guild shared the list of materials below during Copyright Advocacy Month in September of 2020; however, the articles and videos are evergreen content.

Sep 21, 2020


    Don't Change The Words or Music

    As a part of our effort to support dramatists and their allies in the fight, we created a telephone hotline and email address, where anyone can anonymously report instances of copyright infringement – the Guild will reach out to writers, licensors, and publishers of theatrical works to follow up on the reports.

    To anonymously report copyright infringement, or if you don’t know where to go to request a script change, you can call the #DontChangeTheWords hotline at 1-855-71-WORDS, to leave a report via voicemail. If you send a text to that same number, you will receive a link to fill out a report online that will be shared with the Guild’s Business Affairs department. You can also email the Guild to report infringement in your area.

Sep 18, 2020


    Childress v. Taylor by Cheryl L. Davis

    There’s one thing that a writer learns very very quickly: everybody has an opinion about your work. It becomes part of the writer’s job to winnow through those various opinions to figure out which ones are actually helpful. But, by accepting someone’s suggestions about your script, are you actually making them your co-author? “Survey says”—and the Courts say—“No.”

Sep 17, 2020

Sep 16, 2020


    The Varied Copyrights of Theatre

    IN THE THEATRE INDUSTRY, copyright law protects the contributions of authors, be they playwrights, librettists, composers, or lyricists. However, the highly collaborative nature of theatre brings many contributions to the production from non-authorial artists as well. A winning production is the perfect combination of these elements, some owned outright by their respective contributors, some owned only under certain circumstances, and some not proprietary at all. On one end of the spectrum is the author as owner of the script, and on the other end is the director who—according to the Copy-right Act of 1976 (the “Copyright Act” or the “Act”) and the Department of Justice—owns no copyright. Other artists, however, enjoy some type of ownership interest.

Sep 15, 2020


    Three Copyright Advocacy Webinars Starting Sept 21

    The Dramatists Guild of America and DG Copyright Management, Inc. (DGCM) are pleased to present the following three webinars, as part of their special programming for Copyright Advocacy Month.

    Wait! That’s Not What I Wrote! with Amanda Green and Doug Wright moderated by Cheryl Davis from the Authors Guild
    Monday, September 21 at 2pm EDT

    Copyright Questions with Catherine Rowland from The U.S. Copyright Office
    Friday, September 25 at 2pm EDT

    Music Copyright 101 with Sean Patrick Flahaven from Concord Theatricals
    Wednesday, September 30 at 2pm

Sep 14, 2020

Sep 12, 2020


    A Statutory Rebuff to the Idea of a Director's Copyright

    Shows change over time, as do the connections with various producers, designers, and, of course, directors. What does not change is you, the author of the work. You get to decide the order of the scenes, which character is on stage at a given time, the dialogue of the piece. For your efforts, the government gives you ownership of the copyright in your work."

    Rachel S. Wolkowitz rebuffs the idea of a so-called 'director's copyright.


Sep 10, 2020

Sep 08, 2020


    Six Comments on Streaming During the Coronavirus

    When theatres began cancelling productions, many tried switching to live-streaming, some doing so successfully. While requests to livestream stage plays have dwindled with increased stay-at-home directives, there are still many reasons to study the industry standards we’ve already seen: live-streaming and archive streaming have many of the same issues; live-streaming may come back, and a subset of dramatists may be able to use live-streaming throughout this crisis.

    Keep in mind that you, the author, must give permission for any streaming. Any special permissions should be only for the time of the coronavirus outbreak, whether that be keyed to an official state of emergency from a specific government, or a theatre’s ability to return to hosting live audiences. (1) The important thing is that streaming permissions should have an end date.

    Most dramatists understand the urgency in permitting a stream of their works at this time: this might be the last royalty you see for a while, or might be a unique opportunity to get recognition in a historically saturated market. (2) You should inform your agents and other representatives whether you permit these uses, and under what circumstances.

    (Even with the author’s approval, streaming a production could be stopped by other professionals, such as those represented by other theatrical unions and guilds.)

    Authors get paid if, and when, any other person involved with the production is getting paid: director, actors, front-desk receptionist—anybody. Even if “nobody’s getting paid,” authors typically obtain their license fee, whether a flat fee, per performance, or a royalty against advance. (3) Don’t let the coronavirus become yet another reason used to battle against the idea of paying you for your artwork.

    To obtain a standard amount for these permissions, you still need to know how many audience members are seeing your work. Under no circumstances have we seen legitimate video streams of theatre works just sitting on YouTube or a theatre’s website, free for all the public to see, in full, whenever they want and however many times they want.

    What the Guild has seen are restrictions that parallel the written agreement for live performance.  For example, a 99-seat theater that licensed a production for five performances would be allowed to stream to only 99 people, and only for five performances (no more than one per day).  Of course, an author could negotiate more “seats” and more “performances” as desired, so long as the royalty is likewise increased.  (4) Put boundaries on access and number of performances.

    The larger theatres and licensing houses have been able to limit access to paying audience members through password protection. This presents a problem for mid-sized and smaller theatres because password protection can be a cost-prohibitive service. The Guild is still researching potential solutions for affordable password protection. (5) Send proven solutions for affordable password protection to

    Finally, consider what opportunities might be specific to you. We spoke to one theatre that had an archive of authors performing their own cabaret-style shows, streamlining permissions. We spoke to an individual who felt his particular, niche audience would pay if left to the honor code, and posted one of his own works. It’s easy enough to set up a Patreon account or put out your Venmo information. (6) Be creative when imagining new opportunities for employing your artwork.

    David H. Faux
    Of Counsel