Keeping the Script Safe - Page 2 at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > Special Interest Areas > Techniques for Independent Production

Techniques for Independent Production
The challenges of creating Digital Cinema and other narrative forms.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old April 24th, 2007, 03:56 AM   #16
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Belfast, UK
Posts: 4,120
I made a short film that involved reincarnation and about 4 years later "Birth" came out. The log line for both films were more or less the same and some people suggested I sue. However, although there were scenes which were remarkably similar it was told from a different perspective, different locations and other changes. In the end, it would be rather like suing because someone who had made a film about a bank robbery because I'd made a film about a bank robbery first.

If my film influenced the "Birth" writer, I don't know, because the short went around a large number of festivals worldwide. Certainly, if you're working on that same subject line it's very possible to come up with similar ideas and scenes.

On a short I'd just get on with it, put the copyright logo on the script and post it to yourself by registered if you wish.
Brian Drysdale is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 24th, 2007, 09:15 AM   #17
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Fredericksburg, Va
Posts: 220
The "post office" thing doesn't work from a legal standpoint.

Yes, it's techincally copy-righted when it's written but the registration proves that.
Registering with the WGA west or east provides the same basic protection and proof, but doesn't last as long.
register with one of the guilds and you even get a snazzy certificate suitable for framing.
I think registering with the WGA East is a little bit cheaper and maybe lasts a little longer.

Think of how much work you've put in to it, I think it's worth the thirty or so bucks.

And I totally agree that rampant stealing is as widespread as many people talk about. It's not the idea that's worth money, it's the successful execution of it. It takes a lot of time, money and know how to write a good script. If they can just buy it from you why would a producer pay someone else to write it and maybe end up with a script half as good...
Reid Bailey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 24th, 2007, 10:05 AM   #18
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: San Mateo, CA
Posts: 3,840
"Registering with the WGA west or east provides the same basic protection and proof, but doesn't last as long."

No, it's not the same as a copyright registration, and the courts recognize this. It serves as a good 'time stamp' but it's not a legal form of 'registration' recognized by the courts, when it comes to awarding damages for intentional infringement.

Then why do it? It's cheaper and quicker than a registration via the copyright office... a 'quick and dirty' time stamp that IS proof of time creation. I use both the WGA registration (as soon as I complete a script or treatment) AND I mail it to the copyright office... call me a belt and suspenders kind of guy. But then , I'm married to a copyright attorney.

For the record, I mailed a treatment into the copyright office on February 6th, and yesterday recieved the registration in the mail. So that took, like ten weeks?

For the last time, sending it to yourself in the mail is NOT a good way to 'prove' creation date.
Richard Alvarez is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 24th, 2007, 11:14 AM   #19
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Fredericksburg, Va
Posts: 220
Yep,
Richard's right. I wasn't clear enough. I was trying to address the "time stamp as proof" issue, but they are def different beasts.

I also know some who register each step of the process i.e. treatment, outline, first draft, second draft etc.
That's a "belt, suspender, sansabelt, elastic waist, overalls" approach...

One benefit of registering with the guild that the copyright office can't address is that the guild uses that as a part of determining a script's authorship especially if multiple writers are involved.

I 've just received paper work to become a guild signatory to option a writer's script, and the paperwork is pretty clear about listing the writer(s) as it appears on the coverpage of the script.
Reid Bailey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 24th, 2007, 04:01 PM   #20
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Belfast, UK
Posts: 4,120
I'm not sure if the full writers guild registration is appropriate for a short film script, for a feature or TV series yes. Unfortunately, short films tend to have little commercial value and their scripts tend not to get ripped off.

Documentary proposals I'd be a lot more wary of than drama scripts. I've heard of so many of these being stolen by in house producers of large broadcasting organisations.

If you've got a great well written drama script with a gripping story, producers will want to option it from you rather than steal it. They've got to pay a writer anyway. However, if you're dealing with the studios you'll need an agent before they'll even look at it.
Brian Drysdale is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 24th, 2007, 04:39 PM   #21
Major Player
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 663
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lori Starfelt View Post
But the amount of ripping off that goes on is great overestimated. I promise you, that regardless of how original your script, there are at least 15 floating around with the same basic storyline - it's all in the execution.

Register your idea with the WGA and then let it go. You cannot worry about being ripped off. If someone you work with goes on to pen a screenplay that is produced and does $50m at the box office, then think about suing. Before then, don't sweat it at all.
Thank you for this reality check. It amazes me how many people are afraid of their ideas being stolen, assuming that they did not accidentally steal it themselves. This same thing happens with music alllllll the time. That's why it's so difficult to produce original music if you are an avid music listener. Those riffs that you come up with in the shower are most likely from a song you heard last week while napping on the train.

There are a finite number of story pitch ideas and when you restrict the description down to a couple lines, you almost have to refer to another work to help with the description. How many times have you pitched by saying, "Think XYZ show's character, but more edgy and outgoing."

I hereby copyright the story entitled, "Presidential Pardon", about a man who is falsely accused and seeks an audience with the President himself in order to 'make things right'. This could be drama, crime, comedy, civil rights, or any other genre. Despite the idea appearing to be original, I am sure 100 other people have already thought of it, and 100 more will think of it once the end-of-term pardons come around in January. Someone probably also has the exact same painfully obvious and phonetically pleasing title.

My point is that, like music, you can really only protect your scripts from direct copying and not from reinterpretation.


What Brian just posted is pretty accurate.
__________________
software engineer
Jad Meouchy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 25th, 2007, 11:14 AM   #22
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Fredericksburg, Va
Posts: 220
I was at a pitch session last year. I pitched my "oh so original" idea, that no one else could possibly come up with.
The guy told me it was the second time in two weeks he had heard that exact same idea.

The interesting thing was he then went on to say "that means it's very marketable".
Reid Bailey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 25th, 2007, 04:13 PM   #23
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Springfield, MO, USA
Posts: 389
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jad Meouchy View Post
I hereby copyright the story entitled, "Presidential Pardon", about a man who is falsely accused and seeks an audience with the President himself in order to 'make things right'.
Wasn't this just on 24 two weeks ago... they're always giving out pardons...
Gary McClurg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 8th, 2007, 07:07 PM   #24
Trustee
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Saint Cloud, Florida
Posts: 1,043
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve House View Post
One thing some writers do is to seal a copy of the script in an envelope in front of a notary and mail it to yourself registered mail, keeping it sealed once it arrives. Now you have positive documentation of the authenticity of your claim to authorship and the date of creation should someone try to steal it.
Unfortunately that won't hold up in court...You must own a copyright.
__________________
www.facebook.com/projectspecto
Marco Wagner is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 9th, 2007, 04:25 AM   #25
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Belfast, UK
Posts: 4,120
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marco Wagner View Post
Unfortunately that won't hold up in court...You must own a copyright.
Here's what BECTU the film & TV union in the UK does:

http://www.bectu.org.uk/resources/scriptreg/index.html

The creator of a work owns the copyright (until it's legally passed on), you're just registering that the work existed at a certain point in time. That's all that any register can do.

If the courts require certain levels of proof regarding the time of creation, you have to meet their requirements. Legal requirements for this can vary from country to country.
Brian Drysdale is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 9th, 2007, 08:44 AM   #26
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: San Mateo, CA
Posts: 3,840
As has been stated earlier in the thread PROOF OF CREATION date and REGISTRATION OF RIGHTS are not the same thing. Awards for unintentional and intentional infringement will often hinge around whether or not the script is registered with the copyright office.
Richard Alvarez is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 9th, 2007, 09:13 AM   #27
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Fredericksburg, Va
Posts: 220
Would someone please just go ahead and lock this thread already and give this dead horse some peace...
Reid Bailey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 9th, 2007, 01:19 PM   #28
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Belfast, UK
Posts: 4,120
Here's what applies in the UK:

http://www.ipo.gov.uk/copy/c-claim/c-register.htm
Brian Drysdale is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > Special Interest Areas > Techniques for Independent Production

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 07:00 AM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network