Great War Theatre


One of the key aims of the Great War Theatre project is to make plays associated with the First World War available to anyone wanting to read, learn about or perform them with as few barriers to access as possible. Copyright and related intellectual property rights can restrict what students, researchers or other interested people can do with plays, images and other creative works. The project team has therefore undertaken a significant amount of work to identify the copyright status of the plays made available on the website and strives to indicate as clearly as possible what others are able to with it within the boundaries of the law.

These guidelines are designed to help you understand the copyright and rights information used on website and to guide you in making choices about how to use and reuse the content. The guidelines make reference to the website’s terms of use which you should refer to if you need to understand your full legal obligations in using the site. None of the following should be regarded as formal legal advice.

Re-using Content

The copyright status of each downloadable script is indicated on the website and explained below. Depending on how the script has been created you may also need to cite the creator of the script in any re-use.

Types of content

Transcribed Scripts

These items are plays which have been typed out by volunteers from the Great War Theatre project. You can easily identify these by the fact that they are typed out documents.

British Library Material

Theseitems are digital scans made by the British Library from play scripts which are part of their Lord Chamberlain’s collection. You can identify them by the Lord Chamberlain’s stamp on the first or second page of each script. The British Library do not make any claim to the copyright in the material supplied. If you are reproducing British Library material you must include the original reference for the physical script as per the citation guide.

Online Sources

In some instances, other projects have already digitised versions of the plays and we have provided links to these.


Copyright is a type of intellectual property right that protects (among other things) plays, books, newspapers, plays, photographs, music, film and broadcasts. It ensures that others cannot copy, publish, perform, rent, adapt or share protected works online without the permission of the author or publisher. Copyright expires after a set period of time although this will depend on the type of work and the law of the country in which any of the above acts (e.g. copying) takes place. The Great War Theatre project is based in the UK so has calculated the copyright status of the content according to the laws of the United Kingdom. Because the copyright in published/performed literary and dramatic works generally lasts for 70 years from the death of the author, there was a likelihood that many of the items selected for digitisation in 2018 would still be in copyright (i.e. the author of the play survived until at least 1948). The project team has therefore investigated the copyright status of each play script made available and has attached a notification to each work to describe the terms under which it can be used. These are explained in the following section.

Reuse notifications

The following reuse notifications are based on those at which follows best practice for labelling digital content by cultural heritage institutions.

Public Domain

This indicates that the project team have researched the author’s date of death and have determined that the copyright in the work has expired. Although we cannot guarantee that our research is 100% accurate and that no one will have a claim to the work, we can confirm that we have carried out a due diligence search and believe that the risk of using the work is low. Even though the material may be free from copyright restrictions we ask that you always provide a citation or reference back to the Great War Theatre project as the source and that you treat the material respectfully.

Licensed for use under a Creative Commons-Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence

This means that the work is still in copyright, but that the author/rights holder has allowed us to make it available on the website and is happy for others to use it as long as there is always a credit to the author, the work isn’t used for commercial purposes and it isn’t adapted into a ‘derivative work’ (e.g. making a film from a play script). However, you may be able to get permission to do these things if you contact the copyright holder directly.

EU Orphan Work

This means that despite our efforts to identify or contact the rights holder we have not been able to do so. We have therefore assumed that the work is still in copyright but have determined that it is not possible to get permission from the copyright owner to make it available. Works that fall into this category are called ‘orphan works’ and there are millions of them in the collections of libraries, museums, archives and galleries. Because the Great War Theatre project is based at a UK university we have been able to take advantage of the EU Orphan Works exception that provides us with a legal defence if a rights holder where to make themselves known and object to the use of their work. As with the Public Domain Mark we cannot guarantee that if you use the work yourself that there would be no legal repercussions. However the risk is significantly diminished following the project’s due diligent search process and the registration of the works in question in the EU Intellectual Property Office Orphan Works Database.

Access to the entire database

The terms of use stop people from making an entire copy of the website and storing it for either private or public use. However if you would like access to the underlying data please get in touch via

Unauthorised use of others’ copyright

It is possible that despite our efforts to address copyright issues, a rights holder might find their work on our website and object to its use. If so there are full details of the process to follow in section 7 of our Terms of Use.

Further Guidance

We are aware that copyright and permissions can be challenging to navigate. If you have any questions about interpretation of the above, or your intended use of the Great War Theatre website please get in touch via

Date updated – 3 July 2019 (v.9)