Adaptation of Shakespeare

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  • I've finished writing a stage adaptation of a Shakespeare play to use for a high school production with a paying audience. I didn't work from an intermediary addition other than the fact that all Shakespeare has been published somewhere else. I used several editions to draw from. My adaptation has stage directions, delivery directions, set design, and thorough elements of my interpretation as a director of how the play should be played. The language is somewhat simplified, but not modernized other than the removal of the thees and thous and contextual explanations of very Elizabethan idioms. I have to have copies printed of my adaptation for my cast to use. It's my understanding that Shakespeare is public domain, but I'd still like to copyright the adaptation to "protect" my work because there is a lot of "me" in the writing as a whole. Is it legal to do that? How do I phrase it on the script? Do I just write Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing adaptation by me, copyright 2008? Can anyone help me with these technicalities? Thanks.
  • If you have created a sufficiently-original derivative work, your work will be protected under U.S. copyright law automatically. You can increase your protection by registering. See the U.S. Copyright Office registration webpage for information on filing fees and forms at:

    Note: your copyright protection will extend only to your original added material - not to text that is already in the public domain.
  • I would add that including a copyright notice in a work is always a good idea, especially a notice that includes contact information. This way, if someone wants permission to use your work, they know whom to ask and how to get in touch. So, for example, your notice might say:

    This is an adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespare. Stage directions, delivery directions, set design, and commentary are (c) 2008, Jann Fontane. For requests and permissions, please contact jannfontane @

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