National Theatre

WGGB and National Theatre agree deal on digital rights

Playwrights commissioned by the National Theatre will enjoy new protections for digital use of their work, following terms agreed by WGGB under its umbrella TNC Agreement.

The agreement, which enshrines minimum fees, royalties, attendance allowances, textual integrity and other rights has been expanded to include terms for the National’s streaming programmes NT Live and NT at Home, as well as use of its streamed content by libraries and in educational settings via the NT Collection.

Confirming that it is a playwright’s decision whether their work is streamed, the agreement also includes a commitment from the National, the RSC and the Royal Court to ongoing consultation with WGGB “in relation to the implementation of new projects and initiatives planned by the theatres that are not covered by an existing union/collective agreement”.

Former WGGB President and union negotiator David Edgar said: “We’re delighted that the streaming of plays to cinemas, libraries, schools and now personal devices is now part of our collective agreement with the National Theatre.

“Forms of delivery are changing all the time and it’s also great that Britain’s three leading theatres have agreed that terms for new forms of delivery will be subject to consultation and negotiation.”

WGGB General Secretary Ellie Peers said: “Futureproofing writers’ rights in the digital age is a top priority of WGGB, and we’ve seen an acceleration of the streaming trend in the past year, as theatres have sadly had to close their venues to audiences due to the pandemic and taken to showcasing their plays on a virtual stage.

“It is therefore timely and welcome that our negotiators have secured these important new rights for playwrights.”

Emma Keith, Director of Digital Media at the National Theatre said: “As the pandemic continues to impact ways in which the NT can engage our audiences, we’re pleased to have this agreement in place with the WGGB to support us continuing to reach audiences in cinemas, at home, in schools and libraries.”

WGGB has also drawn up a set of best practice guidelines for playwrights and theatres during Covid, which were agreed by UK Theatre and the Independent Theatre Council last year.