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legal How do you protect your work?

pedramyz

Member
I know I asked this question before, but I only got into it briefly. If I wanna discuss it with a bit more detail I'd make some examples of stealing ones works or plagiarism :

Let's say You've written a script. Now you intend to give it to an editor ( who you don't personally know ), and lets say this editor happens to be a writer too. If this editor gets any ideas and decides to write his/her own story based on some of your screenplay's concepts, how can you prevent him/her from doing that? mlesemann once mentioned NDA, but she and directorik both said if somebody wants to steal your story NDA can't really stop them from doing that. Also I intend to submit my script to WGA. But again as I understand it WGA is something that provides evidence to the DATE of a certain work submitted and it doesn't really get into the concepts or stories or characters of your screenplay. So I'm not sure if you decide to sue somebody WGA would offer solid paperworks and evidences concerning your works' concepts,... .

Another example would be being able to pitch your script to a producer ( That day would be a good day btw), Lets say a certain producer didn't like your work. but he liked some of the few concepts of your screenplay. and instead of asking you to rewrite it, he would go on and pitch your concept to another reputable writer he knows to write it for him ( I don't know if this is something producers would do btw ), How can you stop them from doing that?

oh and one more thing, lets say that WGA provides all the necessary protections, each time you rewrite your story or edit it for a new draft you should again submit your script to WGA if you want to show it to someone? example would be you've already submitted say the 3rd draft of your script to WGA, a producer reads it and asks you to rewrite it . Do you need to submit the new rewritten script to WGA again? If this is the case it seems pretty expensive.
 
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Can't you just mail the script though the post to yourself? Than it has a mark from the post office. A proof that you creathet the script on a certain date
That’s known as the “Poor Man’s Copyright” and its effectiveness is not guaranteed.

Somebody told me about that 30 years ago, and I still have a DAT cassette around here somewhere in a still-sealed envelope. It required sending the tape as registered mail, and asking the post office use their dated cancellation stamp several times across the seal of the envelope to prove that the seal had never been tampered with. But again, this really isn’t any guaranteed protection, at least not in the US.
 

pedramyz

Member
I dont know if it helps but here is a fun video...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dS2tzDiP7LA

Can't you just mail the script though the post to yourself? Than it has a mark from the post office. A proof that you creathet the script on a certain date
Thanks for the video. Only a small part of this video explains about the "lawsuit" part . but it doesn't really tell how you get to sue a certain studio in the first place. Where does the proof come in that all these materials ( Concept, character, story, set up,...) belong to you?
 

pedramyz

Member
Getting a literary agent than?
legally what does a literary agent do to prevent others from plagiarizing your work? A literary agent is usually involved in pitching your script, not defending it in court. That's the job of an entertainment lawyer ( which most unproduced writers can't afford) . My main question is what precautions you as a writer should take to avoid any potential plagiarism of your work, and what gives you a leg to stand on when you decide to sue somebody for stealing your work?
 

mlesemann

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Essentially you can't protect an idea or concept. You register and eventually copyright a script. But if someone tries to steal it, your only recourse is a law suit.

Here's a real-life example from last week. I was hired to write a screenplay, and now the guy who hired me (who will be one of the producers) is working on hiring a director. He reached out to a fairly well-known guy, and that person's agent said they would read the script but both the producer and I had to sign a release. That document - which I signed - included extensive language that protects the agency and the director from any claims that they stole the idea behind the script. Among other things, we had to stipulate an understanding that many people write about the same things, that they may have similar projects in the works, etc etc etc.

They (the agency and the director) protected themselves and I (and the producer) accepted that.

That's life in the big city.
 

pedramyz

Member
Essentially you can't protect an idea or concept. You register and eventually copyright a script. But if someone tries to steal it, your only recourse is a law suit.

Here's a real-life example from last week. I was hired to write a screenplay, and now the guy who hired me (who will be one of the producers) is working on hiring a director. He reached out to a fairly well-known guy, and that person's agent said they would read the script but both the producer and I had to sign a release. That document - which I signed - included extensive language that protects the agency and the director from any claims that they stole the idea behind the script. Among other things, we had to stipulate an understanding that many people write about the same things, that they may have similar projects in the works, etc etc etc.

They (the agency and the director) protected themselves and I (and the producer) accepted that.

That's life in the big city.
Since I'm an unsolicited writer, the only recourse that remains for me is registering to WGA and then U.S copyright office right? The reason I'm really sensitive to this is because I live in Iran, and my script involves only people in overseas. So if somebody tries to steal it, I won't have the money nor anybody here to help me with that. and should I register my script before giving it to an editor?
 
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Sweetie

Member
It's coming across that you're treating this like gold. Be sure not to put the cart before the horse.

There's little point in being a writer if you're too afraid to let anyone see your work.

If it's that much of a concern, get a good lawyer.
 
It could be gold... My script is gold... I'm less worried that someone will steal it because its so fucking weird... Its Like...nobody's gonna steal the script to Ronnie Rocket.
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
Let's say You've written a script. Now you intend to give it to an editor ( who you don't personally know ), and lets say this editor happens to be a writer too. If this editor gets any ideas and decides to write his/her own story based on some of your screenplay's concepts, how can you prevent him/her from doing that?
You can't.

So I'm not sure if you decide to sue somebody WGA would offer solid paperworks and evidences concerning your works' concepts,... .
The WGW will not offer solid paperwork and evidence. They will
provide the date you registered your screenplay. That screenplay
will be the paperwork and solid evidence you need in a lawsuit.

Lets say a certain producer didn't like your work. but he liked some of the few concepts of your screenplay. and instead of asking you to rewrite it, he would go on and pitch your concept to another reputable writer he knows to write it for him ( I don't know if this is something producers would do btw ), How can you stop them from doing that?
You can't.

example would be you've already submitted say the 3rd draft of your script to WGA, a producer reads it and asks you to rewrite it . Do you need to submit the new rewritten script to WGA again? If this is the case it seems pretty expensive.
Yes and you're right.

This is why professional writers do not to rewrites for each producer
who asks for them.
 

robotkubo

Member
I don't think there is any actual way to stop someone from stealing your ideas, my uncle and a friend wrote a script for a somewhat big movie that came out in the 90s. but without protection the producer took the basis of the story and gave it to other known writers. he left the business and has never gone after it since. the script he wrote and the movie were essentially the same but with changes here and there.
 

indietalk

IndieTalk Founder
Staff member
Admin
The best thing you can do is cover all your bases and then you just have to be satisfied that have have done all you can, or it will hold you up in getting your work out there.

Be precautious, not paranoid.

And get it out there!
 
Well...don't forget how Steven Spielberg stole that script from that other Iranian guy. Don't send your scripts to Steven Spielberg....
 
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