Copyright Scripts for Plays

If you’ve written a script for a play that you want to have performed, then the next step is to have your work either copywritten with the Library of Congress or registered with the Writer’s Guild of America. You can do either one or the other or both to protect your work.

To begin with, go to the Library of Congress website and download then complete a “Form PA” or a “Short Form PA.” “PA” means “Performing Arts” or that you’ve written a script with the intention of having it performed publicly. There is also a “CON Form” (Continuation Sheet for Application Forms) in case you need more room. You will need to have adobe on your computer since the forms are pdfs.

Select the “Short Form PA” when you are the only author of the work and own its copyright, you weren’t hired to write it, if it is completely new and not containing large amounts of previously published or registered work or is in the public domain and is not audiovisual. If any of this doesn’t apply to your script then use “Form PA.”

Complete the form and then send the payment, along with a nonreturnable copy of your play to the Library of Congress.

Your registration isn’t considered complete until after your application and payment has reached the Copyright Office. If everything is in order then within six months you will receive a certificate of registration.

Once a work has received a copyright it is protected for the rest of the author’s life plus seventy years.

Public Domain means that the copyright on a work has expired or the author or legal owner has placed in the public domain.

To copyright your work through the Writer’s Guild of American, East and West, push the “Script Registration” button to register your script online from the Writer’s Guild of America, East (WGAE) webpage and then press the “Start Registering” button when you get to the main page. Fill the information that pertains to your play, along with your personal and credit card information.

You can also register your plays with WGAE in person or by mail. For walk-in submissions, bring a certified check, money order or a Visa or MasterCard to pay for your registration. To mail in the submission of your script: send an unbound copy of your work on standard sized paper (8 1/2 by 11 inch) in a registration envelope (9 by 12 inch) with a self-addressed stamped envelope.

Choose either the buttons “Register Your work Online” at the Writer’s Guild of America, West (WGAW) webpage. Fill in details about the material you want to have registered, and then fill in your personal, as well as credit card information. Select the file from the browse menu, review your information and then click the “Register This Item” to complete your registration.

Select “Register Your Work by Mail” at the Writer’s Guild of America, West (WGAW) webpage, if you’d rather not use the online procedure. Send one unbound loose-leaf copy of your material on standard sized paper 81/2 by 11, along with a cover sheet that includes, your legal name, the name of your material, Social Security Number, return address, email address, and phone number, along with the registration fee to the address listed on the website.

Fees to register your work with the Writer’s Guild of America, East and Writer’s Guild of America, West varies if you are a union member, a student or associate or if you are a nonmember.

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