Why Peter Pan Had to Take Flight Again; Intellectual Property

The Journal (Newcastle, England), October 19, 2006 | Go to article overview

Why Peter Pan Had to Take Flight Again; Intellectual Property


Byline: Shlomi Isaacson

REGULAR readers of the IP pages will recall that over the last year or so we have been following the Peter Pan sequel story with interest.

To recap, the prevailing law in this country dictates that a published work will be out of copyright 70 years following the death of the author.

As Sir JM Barrie died in 1937, the royalties accruing from his most famous work of fiction, Peter Pan, were due to expire in 2007. Well, not exactly. In this country at least, the royalties are protected in perpetuity following the passing of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988, Schedule 6 of which makes specific and unique reference to the book. In other jurisdictions however, this is not the case. Copyright in the EU is set to expire next year, although in the US there are still some years left.

J.M. Barrie had bequeathed all the royalties from his book to the Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital, which has benefited significantly as a result in the intervening decades. The hospital's trustees are not authorised to reveal quite how much benefit exactly, although clearly it has been immense.

The conclusion of the copyright protected period naturally threatened to stifle a crucial revenue stream, taken for granted for so long. The trustees therefore came up with an idea which was intended to ensure the continuation of Pan related royalties - commission an official sequel. …

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