All the answers to your frequently asked questions about Peter Pan and Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Copyright and income
- Does Great Ormond Street Hospital have the copyright in Peter Pan in perpetuity?
- How valuable has Barrie's gift of copyright been to the hospital?
- Does the Peter Pan income run into millions?
- What do I need to do if I want to put up a production of Peter Pan?
- What do I need to do if I want to put up a school production of Peter Pan?
- Would I be allowed to write my own adaptation of Peter Pan, as a panto/musical/puppet show/ballet etc?
- What was the deal with Disney?
- Does the hospital or charity receive income from sales of Disney's Peter Pan DVDs and merchandise such as toys, games, etc?
- Are the Disney Tinker Bell films also under licence from Great Ormond Street Hospital, and do you receive income from Tinker Bell merchandise and DVDs derived from these films?
- What about the other films made about Peter Pan?
- What about Finding Neverland, with Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet?
- Where can I buy a copy of Peter Pan in Scarlet?
- What about other books written about Peter Pan, such as Peter and the Starcatchers?
- Can anyone now write a sequel, prequel or other spin-off using the characters from the original story of Peter Pan
Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity has a right to royalty in perpetuity in the UK, granted by the Copyright Designs & Patents Act (1988) (CDPA). It applies to stage productions, broadcasting and publication of the whole or any substantial part of the work or an adaptation of it in the UK.
This right does not apply to derivative works such as sequels, prequels, spin-offs or to extracts.
The play Peter Pan is still in copyright in the US until 2023, and in Spain until 2017.
The copyright has expired everywhere else so, apart from the play in the US and Spain, it is considered in the public domain. Note: Fair use would apply in the US for use of characters etc in derivative works.
Over the years, it's been enormously valuable – not only in financial terms but also as a symbol and icon – and has brought a fair amount of income to the hospital. Because Barrie asked the hospital never to reveal the actual income received, we have always respected his wishes.
Public speculation has been wildly exaggerated and the Peter Pan income is not - and has never been - the main source of charitable income for the hospital (contrary to some internet reports!)
For professional and amateur rights in the UK, USA and Spain, you need to obtain a licence from our theatre agents, Samuel French (UK and USA) and SGAE (Spain). You can find their contact details on our theatre agents list.
For school productions in the UK, please see the answer below.
We offer different options for schools in the UK:
- If the production is not for profit, no permission is required.
- If tickets are sold in the school, you can obtain a licence from GOSHCC: contact email@example.com
- We waive licensing fees if the school organises fundraising activities for the benefit of the charity(see restrictions below). There is no minimum amount to be raised and we supply a pantomime version specially adapted for children. All you need do is register with our Community Events team. Visit their webpage for more details.
Note: We regret we cannot waive fees when third parties' adaptations or versions are used (eg Piers Chater Robinson's musical, Stiles & Drewe's musical, Trevor Nunn's adaptation or David Barrett's version) as they are subject to other licences.
For school productions in the USA, please contact our agents Samuel French Inc.
Would I be allowed to write my own adaptation of Peter Pan as a pantomime, musical, puppet show, ballet etc?
Yes, but before putting it on stage in the UK, US or Spain (whether professional or amateur), please contact our theatre agents (see above) first who will grant you a licence.
If you are a school in the UK, US or Spain, please see above.
Walt Disney Corporation were licensed exclusive animation rights by Great Ormond Street Hospital in 1939 and the animated film came out in 1953. Their own sequel, Return to Neverland, came out in 2002, also under licence from Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity.
Does the hospital or charity receive income from sales of Disney's Peter Pan DVDs and merchandise such as toys, games, etc?
The original contract (as was standard at the time) did not include these since they did not exist in 1939 so the hospital or charity was not entitled to any royalties from DVDs or toys or any other merchandise.
Over the years, Disney have been very supportive of the work of the hospital. Since 2008, when Disney partnered with Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity, they have raised more than £10 million towards the hospital's vital redevelopment programme and continue to support the hospital and charity with fundraising events and donations.
Are the Disney's Tinker Bell films also under licence from Great Ormond Street Hospital and do you receive income from Tinker Bell merchandise and DVDs derived from these films?
Because the films are spin-offs from the original story and Peter Pan is out of copyright, we do not receive any income from DVDs or toys derived from the Tinker Bell films or merchandise.
Apart from the Disney animated movies, there have been other films made, starting with a silent movie by Paramount in 1924 (under licence from JM Barrie himself) and more recently Columbia Pictures (part of the Sony Pictures Entertainment Group) made the Peter Pan 2003 movie (with Jeremy Sumpter as Peter Pan and Jason Isaacs as Captain Hook). This was licensed by Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity (GOSHCC) who benefited directly from proceeds.
In 1991, Spielberg directed a sequel, Hook, with Robin Williams as an adult Peter Pan returning to Neverland to fight Dustin Hoffman's Captain Hook. This was also licensed by GOSHCC.
The film Pan by Warner Bros. (2015) was a prequel or origin movie so no permission or licence was required from GOSH.
That was a fictionalised version of Barrie's life, not the story of Peter Pan, so no licence from Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity was required. Miramax Films have supported us with the film premiere given for our benefit. The film is not the true story of JM Barrie and his friendship with the Llewelyn Davies family, as many elements in the film are made up and other key characters (such as the fifth Llewelyn Davies boy and his father) are missing.
Because the hospital, as copyright owners, commissioned it themselves through a competition. While the original Peter Pan was still in copyright, no-one else would have had the right to write or publish a sequel on a worldwide basis.
What about other books written about Peter Pan, such as Peter and the Starcatchers?
Prequels, sequels, spin-offs or any other derivative works based on Peter Pan and other characters from the story do not require a licence as it's out of copyright.
Can anyone now write a sequel, prequel or other spin-off using the characters from the original story of Peter Pan?
Yes, because in the UK the terms of the CDPA (see above) do not apply to derivative works. In the US, fair use would apply since the novel is in the public domain. However, this only applies to the original work, not to elements that are specific to third parties' works such as Disney films, Spielberg's Hook, PJ Hogan's film etc. Always check that quotations, place names, characters etc are from the original (do not rely on the internet, which is frequently incorrect).
If in doubt, please check with the Peter Pan team at firstname.lastname@example.org who will be happy to help you.