Contracts and Best Practices

As theatres remain closed, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, many producing organizations have moved to presenting live-streamed content. Specifically, producing organizations are looking to present works from their archives, or convert previously contemplated live performances into digitally streamed performances.

To help you navigate these new uses of your work, we offer you a model Livestream Addendum agreement that revises prior agreements to include such “digital rights.” This agreement reflects our research, which included conversations with publishers, producing entities, and unions.

As we continue our conversations with industry leaders, we will update this agreement as necessary. But this addendum is not designed for theatres commissioning you to write an original work intended solely for digital performances (what we call a “Virtual Work”). If you wish to negotiate terms for licensing, or being commissioned to write, a virtual work, a separate agreement will be required (The DG is currently developing a new media model agreement, in consultation with the Writers Guild of America East and the DG’s New Media Committee).

Before using this agreement, please recall the following:

  1. It is the author’s exclusive right to approve presentations of their work. No organization, or person, has the right to present the author’s work in any form without first obtaining permission.
  2. As with any presentation, authors should make sure that their basic authorial rights (script approval, creative approval, the right to be present) are preserved, and that they receive standard royalties and billing credit.
  3. Live-streamed and archival presentations are not equivalent to live stage presentations. Therefore, requests for subsidiary rights, producer billing, and future options should be carefully scrutinized.
  4. For live-streamed and archival presentations, special attention must be placed on efforts to protect against piracy. The presenting organization should be able to explain what type of technology is being used, and what protections are in place to protect the author’s work from being copied, circulated, or viewed beyond the contemplated number of performances.

This is a template agreement; no one is obligated to use it. You need to read it completely, and review its content, to make your own determination as to its applicability to your situation. Please make any changes that you deem necessary, and be sure to make selections of those provisions that have been indicated with italics [in brackets].

The DG’s advice and guidance, inferred from this model agreement, does NOT constitute legal advice. Consultation with your personal attorney is advised.

Deborah Murad
Director of Business Affairs

View the Contract

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