Intro to Licensing
Licensing a play or musical for performance is an important part of the process of making theatre. When you license a show, you are providing a living wage for writers and helping safeguard their work.
We hope to make the process of licensing straightforward, quick, and uncomplicated. Every production is different and not every title in our catalog is licensed the same way. The requirements vary show-by-show, which has much to do with the wishes of the author and circumstances surrounding the title.
Some titles may be licensed automatically, with no restrictions. Other titles require additional conversation and may be restricted. Also, the Licensing fees often vary from title to title. These are based on the category of your performing group (Amateur or Professional), the agreement with the author, and the availability of the title.
Most commonly asked licensing questions
1. How do I apply for a licence from Samuel French?
To apply for a licence, find the show you're looking for, either through our Perform page or by searching using the search box at the top left of every page of our site. If the show is available for licensing through Samuel French, you'll see a ‘request licence’ button on its detail page.
Once you've completed your application, you'll be issued with an agreement (which will become a valid licence to perform once all fees have been paid).
2. Why is a licence required to perform a play?
Plays are covered by copyright law from the moment they’re written, which means that for a certain period of time if you want to perform them publicly you need to seek the author’s permission and pay them to stage their work. Copyright in the UK is 70 years after the date of death of the author.
3. Do I need a licence to perform a play or musical?
If a play or musical is still within copyright, you will need permission and a valid performance licence in place before you perform it. If it is not in copyright, you do not need a licence.
4. Do I need a licence for the type of performance I'm doing?
If you're doing a public performance of a copyright protected play, you need a licence. Put simply, unless you're doing a show in your own home for friends and family, or in a school as part of the usual teaching day and lessons, with no other invited guests, your show will be considered 'public'.
There's a common misconception that you don't need a licence if you're not charging for tickets. This isn't the case. All public shows require a licence, regardless of whether or not you're charging