James M. Barrie donated all rights to Peter Pan to Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital in 1929. This source of income enabled the hospital to become the country's premier children's hospital.

Fifty years after Barrie's death, in 1987, the copyright expired according to UK law. However, a year later, former Prime Minister Lord Callaghan managed to have a section added to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act that granted Great Ormond Street the unique right to royalties from Peter Pan in perpetuity. This is valid only in the UK, but general copyright extensions in the US and the EU now grant limited (but still valid until 2023 and 2007 respectively) spans of copyrights in these areas as well.

The case has recently received special attention after Canadian writer J. Emily Somma published a derivative work (which was legal in Canada).