PantSoc could owe children’s charity £240

Credit: Great Ormond Street Hospital

Credit: Great Ormond Street Hospital

PantSoc could owe as much as £240 to Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital.

The pantomime adaptation of J M Barry’s Peter Pan performed by the society earlier this month was not licensed by Great Ormond Street, the children’s charity that holds copyright over the popular story.

Though the script was re-written by Katie Lambert and Helen White, the society still needed to acquire a licence for its performance, and is liable to pay royalties to the charity.

An official from Samuel French, the theatre agents who handle licenses for productions of Peter Pan, said, “it’s somewhere in the region of £80 per performance”.

“With Peter Pan, all of that royalty is going to Great Ormond Street Hospital, so obviously by the royalty itself you’re already giving the money to a charity. But of course if you want to do any extra fundraising then you can.”

Simon Lewis, PantSoc Chair, said the lack of payment to Great Ormond Street Hospital was an “accidental oversight”.

The society charged £4.50 per ticket for students and £7 for non-students, and received large audiences in three performances of Peter Pan in Central Hall, from January 31 to February 2.

Copyright for the children’s story first ran out in 1987, but a special amendment to the law, proposed by the then Prime Minister Lord Callaghan, was passed.

A poster for the PantSoc production

A poster for the PantSoc production

According to the charity’s website, this gives 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.

“Over the years, it’s been enormously valuable – not only in financial terms but also as a symbol and icon – and has brought significant income to the hospital.”

The charity has its own website devoted to Peter Pan, and under a tab labelled “copyright” describes the obligations for Peter Pan productions.

In a YSTV interview before the production, Lambert said, “It’s quite a lot of the original, it has quite a lot of quotes, but I think that you probably wouldn’t notice them unless you’re a big Peter Pan Freak like me.”

“It’s supposed to be playing on the original, twisting it a bit. Obviously it’s massively indebted to Disney, so it’s a bit of everything really.”

Lewis said, “We were not previously aware of this due to the unusual nature of the copyright surrounding the character of Peter Pan, and as a result we are now working with YUSU and contacting the relevant department at Great Ormond Street Hospital to ensure any liabilities are met. If it is the case that payment is due, of course we will honour that debt. Where applicable, we would pay for rights to shows, but in practice that is not applicable for the vast majority of our performances.”

Chris West, YUSU Activities Officer, said, “Great Ormond Street Hospital have been contacted, and we are awaiting a reply from them to find out what can be done retrospectively to cover any liabilities that have arisen.”

Lewis said, “I can assure you that this will have no knock on effects for future productions by the society, and our Summer productions will continue as normal. Of course as a society we shall now be extra conscious of any rights that we need to pay for anything to do with future productions.”

Lambert said, “I think it’s a shame really cos panto is the only society who is not charity based in definition, but donates to rag every year.”

PantSoc routinely puts on three productions each year, and in 2012 was awarded Society of the Year by YUSU.


  1. 16 Feb ’13 at 9:23 pm

    PantSoc Member

    Yeah, PantSoc isn’t a profitable organisation in the way you appear to assume it is. By commenting on our ticket prices and stating we apparently received “large audiences in three performances” (were you there every night?) you’re painting us with a particular brush. And when Katie said “it’s a shame” you’ve not put it in context, as she meant it’s a shame the error of overlooking was made in the first place and not that we didn’t pay. It was an accidental slip up from a student-run society, not quite the scandal you seem to wish it was.

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  2. 16 Feb ’13 at 9:36 pm

    Intrigued Reader

    What a non-story. — blown out of proportion and

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  3. 16 Feb ’13 at 9:37 pm

    Intrigued Reader

    …bring back the quality journalism of the old Nouse.

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  4. This, quite simply, is not news.

    Also, the new Nouse logo is shit.

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  5. 16 Feb ’13 at 9:48 pm

    The offspring of real journalists

    The editing for this article- especially as a piece written by the Deputy-Editor for Nouse- is unbelievably sloppy. The author, in a non-newsworthy piece, deliberately aims to bias his audience and take quotes (which should have at least a [sic] in it for crying out loud) out of context.
    I could say some words about the journalistic morals of this particular author when it comes to this article- but let’s just say the details are less than reputable

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  6. I thougt it was the case that Peter Pan became public domain again a few years ago? GOSH can still claim royalties if performed without substantial changes and for profit.

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  7. 16 Feb ’13 at 10:28 pm

    PantSoc Member

    Also, the statement quoted from PantSoc was originally released in response to York Vision. So basically Nouse rushed to the presses to scoop them on the story, and that it was Vision who first brought the matter of copyright to our attention. Just thought that should be mentioned somewhere.

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  8. 16 Feb ’13 at 11:06 pm

    Washington Irvine

    @Barry think that dispute is in the states only.

    @pantsoc member, do you not think this line demonstrates the article made it clear that it was an accidental slip: “We were not previously aware of this due to the unusual nature of the copyright”. I think the article just reports what’s happened, and if anything paints pantsoc in a good light for getting on it and dealing with the problem.

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  9. Again, the new Nouse logo is awful.


    Why change it?

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  10. 16 Feb ’13 at 11:42 pm

    Pantosoc person

    The thing about this that confuses me is this was a geniune error made by pantsoc and there instant reaction was ‘well we’ll find out and if we’ve made a mistake and we’ll pay the rights without hestitation’…
    This is newsworthy how?

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  11. Wow, somebody must be bored. This is not really news worthy stuff.

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  12. So a society put on a performance which unbeknownst to them raised money for charity which they are now paying. Good one Nouse.

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  13. This whole thing is Peter Pants

    *Riotous chuckle*

    Pantomime makes you ugly in God’s eyes.

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  14. 17 Feb ’13 at 9:28 am

    Michael Butcliffe.

    “this is non news” Mate we live on a university campus, there is very rarely any news at all.

    To me I’mm glad this has been highlighted because when I saw Peter Pan was on I wondered and pondered “hmmm will Pantsoc give their money to GOSH? I bet they won’t even know they are meant to”

    AND NOW I KNOW THAT MY SUSPICIONS WERE CORRECT. And to me, thats newsworthy.

    Panto people should be less defensive!

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  15. IT RAN OUT IN 2007.
    I do wish that Nouse would just google a story.

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  16. “In 1996 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 (except in Spain where the copyright will endure until the end of 2017, thanks to previous legislation).

    The Act of 1988 will therefore prevail from now on in the UK so that the hospital will continue enjoying the benefit of Barrie’s gift in perpetuity.”


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  17. 19 Feb ’13 at 3:18 pm

    Joshua Throbson

    Panto people just want to see the world crash and burn. FACT.

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  18. Lord Callaghan was not Prime Minister in 1987, but 1977. Thatcher was PM from 1979-1990. Surely that should just be common knowledge..

    The sentence should say the legislation was proposed by the former Prime Minister Lord Callaghan!

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