Peter Pan and the Copyright that Never Grows Up

Picture the geeky IP lawyer on holiday with the kids watching a “Peter Pan” show in an Italian theme park near Ravenna (not a Disney park).

His mind wanders: “Isn’t Peter Pan still protected under copyright law?”.

The answer is “yes and no.” (Typical lawyer’s answer).

Normally in Europe (and most other countries) copyright in a work lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years. 

JM Barrie died in  1937 – so copyright ran out in 2007.

However, Peter Pan is an anomaly under UK law.

Because Barrie gave the copyright, and thus the right to earn royalties,  to Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children the UK has effectively given Peter Pan perpetual copyright.  For the law geeks out there it is Schedule 6 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

However, it seems that the UK extension is not recognised in other jurisdictions, so the Italian theme park is free to carry on its show.


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