804.9 (D) (3) Stage Directions
Where a director submits an application to register a claim to copyright in the text of his or her stage directions, the registration specialist will communicate with the applicant to determine whether the copyright owner of the play gave the director permission to create a derivative work. If the copyright owner of the play did not grant permission, the specialist will refuse registration. If the applicant confirms in writing that the copyright owner of the play granted permission to use the play as a basis for the derivative work, the specialist will register the claim in the text of the stage directions as a derivative work of the play, provided that the text is copyrightable.
To avoid correspondence, the applicant should notify the Office if the author of the stage directions obtained permission to use the dramatic work as a basis for the derivative work. When completing an online application, this information may be provided in the Note to Copyright Office field; when completing a paper application, this information may be provided in a cover letter.
In addition, the applicant should specifically exclude the dramatic work from the claim by providing the title and author of that work in the Material Excluded field of the online application or in space 6 (A) of the paper application. The derivative authorship should be described as “text of stage directions” in the New Material Included field or in space 6 (B).
• The applicant names Joe Lego as the author of “text of stage directions” and states that the author used the preexisting play Carpe Diem by David Abraham “with permission.” The registration specialist will register the claim if the text is sufficiently creative.
• The applicant names Mary Claire as the author of “text of stage directions.” In the Material Excluded field the applicant states “script by David Snow” and the script deposited names David Snow as author of that work. The registration specialist will communicate with the applicant to clarify whether the use of the preexisting dramatic work was lawful.