Copyright Form Letter: Dramatic Works: Scripts, Pantomimes & Choreography

 Among the types of dramatic works_either published or unpublished_that may be submitted for registration in the Copyright Office are works prepared for stage presentation, such as choreography, pantomimes, and plays, with or without music, treatments, and scripts prepared for cinema, radio, and television. Generally, dramatic works such as plays and radio or television scripts are works intended to be performed. Dramatic works usually include spoken text, plot, and directions for action. Because of misconceptions about copyright registration for radio and television presentations, the following points require emphasis: -- The title of a program or series of programs cannot be copyrighted; -- The general idea or concept for a program is not copyrightable. Copyright will protect the literary or dramatic expression of an author's idea, but not the idea itself; and, -- Registration for a particular script applies only to the copyrightable material in that script; "blanket" protection of future scripts or of a series as a whole is not available. (However, an unpublished collection of material may be registered with one application.) Choreography and pantomimes are also copyrightable dramatic works. Choreography is the composition and arrangement of dance movements and patterns usually intended to be accompanied by music. As distinct from choreography, pantomime is the art of imitating or acting out situations, characters, or other events. To be protected by copyright, pantomimes and choreography need not tell a story or be presented before an audience. Each work, however, must be fixed in a tangible medium of expression from which the work can be performed. To register a claim in a dramatic work, submit the following to the Register of Copyrights, Copyright Office, Washington, 20559-6000: 1. A completed and signed Form PA; 2. A nonrefundable filing fee of $20.00 made payable to the Register of Copyrights; and 3. If unpublished, one copy of the work; if published, two complete copies of the best edition of the work: a. for a script, the copy may be a manuscript, printed copy, a film video recording, or a phonorecord; b. for a pantomime, the work may be embodied in a film or video recording, or be precisely described in text or on a phonorecord; c. for choreography, the work may be embodied in a film or video recording, be precisely described on any phonorecord or in written text, or in any dance notation system such as Labanotation, Sutton Movement Shorthand, or Benesh Notation. All of the elements must be submitted in the same package or envelope. Registration of the work is effective on the day all of the material is received in the Copyright Office although your certificate of registration may not be mailed until 16 weeks after receipt of your submission. ***12/27/95***

Copyright Office * Library of Congress * Washington, D.C. 20559-6000