September is Copyright Advocacy Month

September is Copyright Advocacy Month at the Dramatists Guild! For 30 days, the DG will share tips on what exactly copyright means, how it benefits theatrical writers, and what you can do to protect your copyright. The Dramatists Guild will be posting this information on their social media channels, sending it out via email, and publishing it on their website,  

“In 1919, a group of influential dramatists created the Dramatists Guild, with the chief goal of ensuring that playwrights, composers, lyricists, and librettists would always retain ownership and control of their copyrights,” noted Doug Wright, President of The Dramatists Guild Council. “That's why today American theatre writers - unlike our colleagues in film, television and streaming platforms - can't be rewritten on the fly by actors, directors or producers, and why we maintain key approvals for every creative decision made on behalf of our work.  The Guild exists (in part) to vehemently protect and advocate for copyright, and has been doing so for over 100 years.  We look forward to the wealth of resources planned for the month ahead, which reaffirm our purpose in a variety of entertaining and informative ways.”

Upcoming Guild events for Copyright Advocacy Month will include a return visit from Catherine Rowland of the U.S. Copyright Office on Friday September 25 at 2pm EDT. The Guild will also provide content from previous webinars and roundtables examining how U.S. Copyright Law pertains to Fair Use, Contracts, and more. For the month of September, Guild members will have special access to featured articles on copyright related themes ranging from derivative works to director’s copyright to live streaming, and more.

“Those of us who make art for a living are fueled by the concept of copyright,” explained Georgia Stitt, Chair of the DG Copyright Advocacy Committee. “If I write a song, my hope is that one person will sing it and another will play it on the piano and another will hum it while walking down the street and another will dance to it at a family gathering. Copyright is what allows me to say, “That’s my song.” Copyright honors the fact that I created a thing, the thing I made has value, and the money the thing can produce is due at least in part to my investment in having made it. A song can be sold, it can be given away, it can be donated, it can be stolen. Copyright protection says to the world that our culture values intellectual property; we enjoy things like books, plays, songs, and poems, and we believe that those who trade in such “creations of the mind” should be able to reap individual recognition and financial benefit from the industry that they generate. If you have ever enjoyed Bernstein or B.B. King or Bjork, it’s because someone protected that work and allowed those artists to keep making it. In terms of the theater, that someone is The Dramatists Guild, and I’m honored to be part of this month's focus on and commitment to Copyright Advocacy.”

In 2010, the Guild formed the Anti-Piracy Committee, designed to combat the piracy of sheet music and dramatic works on the internet, and to educate the public on the issue.  The committee soon realized that the issues were bigger than only sharing work online, so in 2018, the committee was renamed the Copyright Advocacy Committee; its goals are to educate the general public about the issues of law and ethics with regard to copyright and to inform the DG membership about their own responsibilities. The committee is comprised of DG members Georgia Stitt (Chair), Cheryl Davis, Mindi Dickstein, David Faux, Sean Patrick Flahaven, Stephen Flaherty, Karen Hartman, Donna Hoke, Kait Kerrigan, Stephanie Liss, Brian Lowdermilk, Peter Parnell, Douglas Post, Ralph Sevush, and Tari Stratton.

The Dramatists Guild of America is the national, professional membership trade association of theatre writers including playwrights, composers, lyricists, and librettists. The Guild was established for the purpose of aiding dramatists in protecting both the artistic and economic integrity of their work. We believe that a vibrant, vital, and provocative theatre is an essential element of the ongoing cultural debate which informs the citizens of a free society; and that if such a theatre is to survive, the unique, idiosyncratic voices of the men, women, trans and non-binary artists who write for it must be cultivated and protected.

The DG©M is an estate planning consultancy and intellectual property management program created by the Dramatists Guild of America to oversee the stewardship of dramatists’ plays, songs and musicals.  Established as a NY “public benefit” corporation, the DG©M’s primary objective is the protection of authorial intent. In this way, dramatists can ensure that dramatists are the ones making the artistic decisions about their work forever after, and that the revenues generated by their properties will go to help support the mission of the Guild and the generations of playwrights, librettists, lyricists and composers to come.

Stay tuned for more details on how you can participate in Copyright Advocacy Month this September. Because copyright is not a passive act.


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