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Now its easier to use my scripts than ever

I have always tried to be generous in the way I allow you to use my drama scripts, but recently I have come to the conclusion that I needed to make it even easier for you to use my work the way you need to.


From the first time I made a drama script available online one of my key concerns has been how to make the scripts as usable as possible by small drama groups that have limited money or resources, and part of my thinking was that I needed to grant purchasers of my scripts some generous rights to use them in the way they needed, while maintaining my own intellectual property rights.


Don't be put off by the term intellectual rights. If you create a written work you automatically have copyright, which means you get to control who uses it and how. If someone want to copy what you've written, they need your permission. If they want to perform it, they need your permission. That's the law. On my bookshelf are many books of plays and drama sketches and they all have notices at the front telling me that I can't copy or even circulate the scripts and that if I want to perform the work I need to apply in writing before even beginning rehearsals. That works fine for a professional drama company or a large amateur drama setup with a regular rhythm of productions, but for a small ad-hoc drama group performing within a church, school or youth group it can be wholly unworkable.


I know this because I've been in small drama groups that just wanted to perform something, needed to perform it soon, weren't going to charge anyone to watch (because it would be in a church service) and had no administrator to sort out legalities. If there was a financial or legal burden they would give up and go home - and that is probably even more true in these financially challenging times. That's why, when I set out to make drama scripts available on this site, it was a no-brainer to decide that all required rights needed to be granted as part of the purchase - a package deal.


So right from the beginning, my scripts have included a notice granting the right to print a performance set of scripts - one for each member of the cast and crew. They have also included a notice granting the right to perform the script, and the right to video the performance. To be honest, given my experience, I felt that the average small, semi-regular drama group was probably not going to pay for these things anyway, so I may as well generously legally grant these rights and let us all occupy the moral high ground!


But I held back on some rights. I only granted performance rights for five years. I allowed videoing, but not making copies of the video. Video could be uploaded to the internet so long as it covered no more than 10% of the length of the performance. These limits were there to try and ensure that I didn't altogether lose control of my scripts, that they didn't escape into the wild and become feral, but they were arbitrary and unsatisfactory and stating them made me sound mean rather than generous! I adjusted them over time, but it was just twiddling at the edges. So when I moved to this Payhip platform and wrote my new Frequently Asked Questions page, I decided it was time for a major reconsideration.


So I've decided to go simple. If you purchase a script from me, you have the right to perform it. Forever. As many times as you want. So if your drama group performs the script, files the script away and in ten years' time comes across it and thinks, wow, that would be perfect for next month - that's okay. If you video the performance and want to make a copy of the video for each member of the cast - that's okay. And if you want to upload the video to your church's Facebook page - that's okay.


Actually, there is a proviso on the videoing, and it's brought about by the fact that although I know my scripts have been downloaded and performed hundreds of times, I have very little proof of that, very little evidence of who has used the scripts where and what the end performance looks like, and for that I am very sad. So I have decided to add the caveats that a purchaser can upload photographs or video if they credit me (Rod Belt) as the author; add a link to DramatisDei.com and give me access to the material (they can just message me a link to where it is posted) on the understanding that I might use them for illustration or publicity. I'm hoping people will actually do that, so I can see what's going on out there!


I haven't seen anyone else offering this sort of deal, so perhaps I'm crazy, but I really want these scripts to be as useful as possible for as many people as possible. Let me know if you think I'm achieving that!



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