Peter Pan copyright

Peter Pan book cover

Who owns the copyright to Peter Pan?

J M Barrie gifted the rights to Peter Pan to Great Ormond Street Hospital in 1929. Over the years, this generous gift has provided a significant source of income to help support the work of the hospital, and to help provide seriously ill children with the best chance to fulfil their potential.

Copyright Designs and Patents Act

The copyright first expired in the UK (and the rest of Europe) in 1987, 50 years after Barrie’s death.

However, former Prime Minister Lord Callaghan successfully proposed an amendment to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act (CDPA) of 1988, giving Great Ormond Street Hospital the unique right to royalties from stage performances of Peter Pan (and any adaptation of the play) as well as from publications, audio books, ebooks,radio broadcasts and films of the story of Peter Pan, in perpetuity.

Copyright in UK and Europe

In 1996, the copyright term was extended to 70 years after the author’s death throughout the European Union, which meant Peter Pan enjoyed revived copyright until 31 December 2007, after which it entered the public domain in Europe.

In the UK, the CDPA therefore prevails so that the hospital will continue enjoying the benefit of Barrie’s gift in perpetuity.

US copyright

Although the novel Peter Pan (also known as Peter and Wendy) is in the public domain in the US, the play (and stage adaptations) is in copyright there until December 2023.

This is because the novel was published in 1911, but the play itself was only published in 1928, so its copyright was extended by the new term of first date of publication plus 95 years (set by the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act of 1998 for works published between 1923 and 1977).

Peter Pan silhouette


A royalty means a percentage of the ticket price or book price payable to Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity for performances, published books or films based on Peter Pan wherever applicable.


We are indebted to the inspirational and talented people who created the words and imagery of Peter Pan.

The quotes and illustrations used throughout this site are covered by copyright.