Answers to frequently asked questions.
Professional or Nonprofessional
For professional or nonprofessional performance rights, there are three easy steps:
- Review the Restrictions page to ensure that your intended production will not conflict with a restriction.
- Review the Payments page to familiarize yourself with the Advance Payment and Final Payment requirements.
- Apply for the rights on the Performance Rights page.
The links above may be found in this order under the Performance Rights item on the main menu.
For competition performance rights, proceed directly to the Performance Rights page to complete and submit your application.
Provided there are no restrictions on the title, and the venue is not located in New York City or Los Angeles, or a country other than the United States or Canada, you can expect to receive a professional or nonprofessional performance license and invoice by email immediately following your application.
If the venue is located in New York City or Los Angeles, or outside of North America, special permissions must be secured, which can take additional time. In most cases, you can expect to receive notice on whether your intended production is approved within two weeks.
All competition applicants receive performance licenses immediately following application.
Please review the Payments page.
For professionals, Advance Payments are nonrefundable because professional restrictions require that we deny requests for performance licenses while a restriction is in place, resulting in lost revenue opportunities for the author. The Advance Payment therefore serves as a hedge for the author against those potential losses. If, however, there are special circumstances with your production, feel encouraged to let us know, and we will take them into consideration. Contact us to request a refund.
For nonprofessionals, Advance Payments are fully or partially refundable only if requested prior to any performances. If, however, there are special circumstances with your production, feel encouraged to let us know, and we will take them into consideration. Contact us to request a refund.
Gross Box Office Revenue (“GBOR”) is defined as any and all receipts from all sources whatsoever for the sale or distribution of tickets for performances of the play(s), excluding only the following allowable deductions:
- Documented federal, state, and local taxes that are imposed upon the admission;
- Documented credit card (AmEx, Visa, MC, etc.) fees and discounts taken from the in-house sales of the theater (not to exceed 5%);
- Documented fees and discounts paid in connection with the theater’s in-house subscriptions: if tickets for the play(s) are sold on a subscription basis (for which the producer receives less than the full price that would be received if the ticket were sold at the box office), GBOR for the play(s) shall be calculated by multiplying the number of subscription tickets sold for the play(s) by the full price of the ticket (calculated using the undiscounted box-office price), and then subtracting any discounts received by subscribers for such tickets;
- Documented fees and discounts paid in connection with the theater’s group sales (not to exceed 10% of the price of the ticket);
- Documented fees and discounts paid in connection with third-party off-site internet sales (e.g., Groupon, Goldstar) (not to exceed 10% of the price of the ticket);
- Documented federal, state, and local government mandated restoration or historic preservation fees (not to exceed any cap then pertaining that may have been imposed on such fees by any theatrical union);
- Documented Ticketmaster and similar fees on a per ticket basis; and
- Documented sums that are subsequently refunded or uncollectible due to dishonored checks, invalidated credit card receipts, or for any other such similar reason.
No other deductions of any kind whatsoever are allowable. For example, the following items, without limitation, may NOT be deducted from GBOR: surcharges and/or operation costs connected with telephone and/or internet sales; agency commissions and ticket-broker fees; ticket-printing expenses; mailing fees; telephone expenses; and any other expenses or fees not specified above as allowable deductions.
For professionals a statement of GBOR, broken down by week, must accompany the Final Payment. For nonprofessionals a statement of GBOR for the run must accompany Final Payment. The Payments page provides downloadable Professional and Nonprofessional Box Office Statement Excel spreadsheets to make quick and easy work of documenting your GBOR. You may then submit these spreadsheets with your Final Payment.
If your theater or organization meets any of the following criteria, you are considered professional for the purposes of performance-rights licensing:
- Any of your actors is a member of Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) being paid greater than or equal to minimum scale.
- Any of your actors, AEA member or otherwise, is paid greater than or equal to $350 per week.
- Your director is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) being paid greater than or equal to minimum scale.
- Your director, SDC member or otherwise, is being paid greater than or equal to $350 per week.
- Any tickets are sold for $35 or more.
Professional productions are granted exclusive performance rights for a play usually within a 50-mile radius of their venue. Nonprofessional productions generally do not receive exclusivity. In addition, professional royalties are calculated on a weekly basis whereas nonprofessional are calculated for the run.
In the past, professionals were required to remit royalties on a weekly basis. In order to reduce the burden of paperwork associated with royalties compliance, both professional and nonprofessional royalties are now paid in just two installments: 1) the Advance Payment, remitted at issuance of the performance license or within 30 days, and 2) the Final Payment, remitted within three business days of the closing date.
A restriction limits the availability of performance rights for a particular play in a certain area during a specified period.
Restrictions are usually associated with a professional production, ensuring exclusivity in their area for the duration of their run. Among other possibilities, a restriction may also reflect an ongoing or upcoming tour of the play, a major production on or Off-Broadway, or an author’s wish to withhold production in a given city.
Yes. If your organization or educational institution requires a purchase order, you may choose purchase order as the payment method on the checkout page. In addition, you may choose purchase order as the payment method when you submit your summary Box Office Statement and Final Payment.
In both cases, you will be sent invoices referencing your purchase order numbers for you to submit to your accounting department for payment.
Book purchases and performance-rights applications must be submitted through the website. We do not take telephone, faxed, or emailed orders. If this presents any difficulties for you, by all means let us know, and we’ll find a solution for you.
While many publishing and licensing houses charge nonprofessionals a flat per-performance fee, our Nonprofessional Payments Schedule charges in a manner similar to how professionals pay royalties. The Schedule provides nonprofessionals with the opportunity to produce plays with a substantially smaller upfront investment (the Advance Payment) than would otherwise be required for a per-performance production in which all royalties are payable prior to the opening date. Equally, the Schedule provides authors with potentially greater compensation than they would otherwise receive from a per-performance production.
In the (unlikely) event that your production should do poorly at the box office, the Schedule requires no further financial obligations from you toward the play. The author has already received fair minimum compensation for the use of their work. In the event (we’re confident) that your production fares well at the box office, you will now have box-office proceeds to additionally compensate the author up to their rightful 10%.
In a sense, the Schedule makes both the author and BPPI limited financial partners in your production. If you don’t do well, neither do we. If you do well, we do too. We think that’s right.
Use the appropriate Professional or Nonprofessional Performance Rights application and enter zero as the ticket price. The application will automatically calculate the correct per-performance minimums. If at any time during the run tickets are sold, submit your Final Payment and summary Box Office Statement as per usual within three business days of your closing date. Otherwise, with zero-ticket-price performance licenses, it is assumed that no box office was collected and no Final Payment is due, and your open license will be marked completed following your closing date.
The nonprofessional per-performance minimums are $75 for a full-length play and $35 for a one-act play. The professional per-performance minimums are $100 for a full-length play and $50 for a one-act play.
Use the appropriate Professional or Nonprofessional Performance Rights application and enter zero as the ticket price. The application will automatically calculate the correct per-performance minimums. The nonprofessional per-performance minimums are $75 for a full-length play and $35 for a one-act play. The professional per-performance minimums are $100 for a full-length play and $50 for a one-act play. If, at the close of your production, 10% of your donations exceeds the amount paid as minimums, a Final Payment is required.
For example, the minimum nonprofessional per-performance fee for a full-length play is $75. The author is due a minimum of $75 per performance or 10% of the house receipts, whichever is greater. Therefore, if you did one performance, your donations would need to exceed $750 before a Final Payment would be required. If two performances, your donations would need to exceed $1,500 before a Final Payment would be required. If three performances, $2,250, etc.
If your donations exceed these amounts, your Final Payment will be 10% of the excess amount.
For example, Theater X is accepting only donations for their three performances. Their minimum payment is $75 * 3 = $250. At the close of their production, their total donations are equal to $3,350. 10% of $3,350 = $335. Theater X subtracts their minimum payment of $250 from $335 to arrive at an overage amount due of $85 as Final Payment in order to ensure that the author receives $335, equal to 10% of the total donations.
There is no distinct pricing model for fundraising events. For example, say you wish to raise money to do a restoration of your theater. Your usual average ticket price is $10, but you set your ticket price at $25, with $15 of that earmarked as a donation towards the restoration. In your performance-rights application, you would enter an average ticket price of $10. Likewise, when you tally final box-office receipts, you would exclude the amount that has been earmarked. In short, the authors are entitled to 10% of the box office, excluding amounts earmarked for fundraising.
Each venue requires its own performance license. As long as the billing address remains the same, you may submit multiple performance-rights applications, one for each venue, and add them to your cart for a single checkout.
If, however, the billing address differs for each venue, you will need to place separate orders for each venue.
If you have in excess of three venues, your production may be considered a mini-tour or a tour. Visit the Contact Us page and submit the details of your planned production, and we will advise you on the performance-licensing logistics.
Visit the Contact Us page and submit your new dates. Be sure to include your order number where indicated. Provided there is no restriction conflict with your new dates, you will be emailed a revised license and invoice within two to three business days.
Visit the Contact Us page and submit the requested number and dates of additional performances. Be sure to include your order number where indicated. We will review your request and, provided there are no restrictions conflicts or other problems, will issue you a revised license and invoice within two to three business days. Please note that in most cases an additional Advance Payment will be required, and we will contact you to confirm credit card authorization or other payment method.
Visit the Contact Us page and submit the number and dates of performances to be dropped. Be sure to include your order number where indicated. We will review your request and issue you a revised license and invoice within two to three business days. Please note that this request must be submitted prior to your production opening date in order to be eligible for a partial Advance Payment refund.
Visit the Contact Us page and submit your reason for cancellation. Be sure to include your order number where indicated. Please note that cancellation requests must be submitted prior to the production opening date for Advance Payments to be refundable.
All competitions require a performance-rights license with the exception of those five minutes or under in duration, such as KCACTF’s Irene Ryan Competition, for which no license is required. For competitions with a duration of greater than five minutes a standard fee of $50 per performance applies for full-length plays and $35 per performance for short plays. These fees apply to plays presented in their entirety as well as to the presentation of excerpts or scenes. Applications for competition rights are not subject to restrictions.
Yes. However, you must perform full scenes whenever possible, and you may not reorder material. Scenes and excerpts must be performed in the order in which they appear in the play. No substitutions or deletions are permitted for individual words or lines under any circumstances. If, for example, you should deem any language in the play inappropriate for your audience, please choose another play.
Our performance licenses do not grant rights to record video or audio. If your intended use of the video or audio is strictly noncommercial, for example, as an archive of the performance that will not be publicly distributed in any way — and yes, that includes YouTube — then you may send an inquiry with the details through our Contact Us page. Depending on the title and your request, we may be able to make a paid or possibly free license for your intended use, just possibly even for posting on … wait for it … YouTube. Please allow up to two weeks for a response.
Video or audio recording for commercial purposes requires that you contact the author’s primary agent to seek those rights. In reality, unless you are prepared to make a substantial payment, you are unlikely to be well received. Primary agents are properly protective of the video and audio-recording rights of their authors.
Yes. A “reading” here, including a “staged reading,” is defined as a public performance in which the actors have scripts in hand or within reach, such as on a stand, and which has minimal production values, including, but not limited to, little to no set, little to no lighting effects, and little to no underscoring or sound effects. The fee for a professional reading to which the public is invited and admission provided free of charge is $100 per performance for a full-length play and $50 per performance for a one-act play. The fee for a nonprofessional reading is $75 per performance for a full-length play and $35 per performance for a one-act play.
Use either the professional or nonprofessional performance-rights applications to request the rights. When presented with the choice between “Production or Public Reading” on the application, select “Reading.” Readings are exempt from the summary Box Office Statement and Final Payment requirements. Enter zero as the average ticket price, and the application will reflect the appropriate per-performance minimum. Note that readings are subject to restrictions. Review the Restrictions list for conflicts before you apply.
Yes, absolutely. Just be aware that purchase of ePlays or other downloadable items must be done by credit card or PayPal. If your order also contains books or performance-rights applications for which you would prefer to pay by bank transfer, check, or using a purchase order number, then you should split the items up into two orders. Only one payment method may be used per order.
Acting editions are published with simple black-and-white matte-coated covers and cost less than trade editions, usually $10.95. Trade editions are published with full-color laminated covers, generally include original artwork, and usually cost $15.95. Most but not all collections are trade editions. Collections range in price, depending on their size and the number of titles they include.
As large catalog print runs are environmentally wasteful, we have discontinued the practice. Our full catalog is interactively available on The Plays page on our website. In addition, a printable PDF catalog may be downloaded from the Catalog page. The printable PDF catalog is posted four times per year to incorporate new acquisitions, in the fall, winter, spring, and summer.
ePlays are currently offered in PDF format. The PDF format is (nearly) universally accessible on personal computers, tablets, and smartphones. PDFs can also be read with a wide variety of software. When you purchase an ePlay, your personal customer information is indelibly stamped onto every page. The stamp verifies your purchase and, in lieu of overcomplicated digital-rights-management schemes, serves as a simple and user-friendly countermeasure to unlawful distribution.
You may download your ePlay from either the confirmation page following checkout, from your confirmation email, or from your My Account page at any time. Download links remain valid for one month from date of purchase.
Generally, yes. Send your request via our Contact Us page with as much detail as possible about the quotation itself and how you intend to use it. If it is for an intended publication, please do not contact us in advance of your having found a publisher and made a publication agreement. At that point, you may contact us with the details, including print run, areas of distribution, list price of book or publication, and any other relevant details necessary for us to make an informed decision as whether the rights should be granted and at what cost. In all cases, reprint rights are granted on a favored nations basis so that no other author of quoted material of similar length may receive a higher fee than our author.
Please see the Submissions page. We do not accept submissions of musicals or individual short plays.