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How much of a script do you need before your copyright it? - Your first experience?

What was your experience like with copyrighting your first script?

I'm writing with some of my friends and we want to copyright the script. A small studio was very interested in our concept and my writing crew and I to build the script. We don't mind if the studio needs to make a few changes, but we definitely want the credit of being the original authors of the script.


1. How much of the script do you need before you can copyright it?

2. What site did you use? (WGA.org, Copyright.gov, ?)

3. What was your experience like copyrighting your first script?


Any other advice and things to look out for would be greatly appreciated.
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
indiePRO
1. How much of the script do you need before you can copyright it?
All of it. The "concept" cannot be copyrighted only the script itself.

2. What site did you use? (WGA.org, Copyright.gov, ?)
The WGA does not register the copyright - only the copyright office does that.

3. What was your experience like copyrighting your first script?
It was easy. It's even easier now.
 
Thanks guys I'll get to work on it.

Have they ever rejected a screenplay of yours for copyrights because it didn't fulfill any requirements?

The reason I'm asking about all this is because the studio, which my team and I are relatively new to knowing, expressed interest in letting their boys take a crack at it. They want to try it soon. They might rearrange the whole thing or just add a few commas. A lot is left to the unknown. We want the first version copyrighted by us to receive proper credit for the story.
 
...which cannot be demonstrated in any legal capacity unless you've actually registered that copyright with the Copyright Office. Without that registration, it's literally just your word against someone else.

On the contrary, you'll be able to provide earlier versions, including notes and feedback from other people. Copyright begins the moment you write it. It doesn't even have to be a full length script. An article, a paragraph, a poem, a line drawing you did in the margins -- all belong to you the moment you write it.

One can do the script registration at any time and for the vast majority of scripts, it's a waste of time and it's no guarantee anyone will steal your script, and even if they do, and more important than the registration of it is whether or not the person who stole it actually made money with it. No money, no court case.

Unless your script is amazingly brilliant and agents are leaving messages for you, you're just throwing money away to an entity whose existence is of rather dubious value.
 
When they say "our boys take a crack at it" they're most likely saying that you won't be credited as the writers and you must make sure that you are credited for the original story.
 
cheap copyright, create a short film of you flipping though your script, upload it as a hidden video to youtube. There it timestamps it when you uploaded it, and could be used as hard evidence.

but about your credits, always ensure you get full credits for your work, no matter what you do. It's going to be your calling card in the future. A paycheck isn't good enough for that.
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
indiePRO
Wow, some of you really go to extremes to avoid $35.

Put aside $5 for every 10 pages you write and you'll have the $35 when
you finish your script plus $10 for a six-pack.

Why such resistance to registering the copyright?
 
well alot of us don't have the option to have an office to register copyright.

In denmark. for example, you have copyright the moment you write it. And the only way to do a formal copyright, is to have it date attested in some way. And the only official way, is to have certain ombudsmen stamp and attest them. And those aren't easy to find, as practically no one know who they are, as they are rarely used.

so youtubing and similar, is a good way for us to have the legal side covered.
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
indiePRO
Do you know for sure that your YouTube method is legal? Is it legal worldwide?
Are you certain that if someone in the States stole your script that your YouTube
method would hold up in US court?
well alot of us don't have the option to have an office to register copyright.

You do have the same option to register that we in the States have:
http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-who.html#foreigners

Denmark signed the Bilateral agreement in 1893, the Berne agreement in 1903
the UCC in 1979 and the WPPT in 2010. You can register your copyright for $35
from Denmark.

If you feel your YouTube method gives you the protection you need then by all
means use it. The chances are no one will steal your script. I hope for your sake
you fully understand the legality and enforceability of your method. And if anyone
follows your advice and uses this method I hope you are not leading them in the
wrong direction.
 
Do you know for sure that your YouTube method is legal? Is it legal worldwide?
Are you certain that if someone in the States stole your script that your YouTube
method would hold up in US court?

It's similar to the "mail it to yourself" trick that people used to do with CDs. At best, the Youtube method will prove that the script is yours but that's about it. You probably won't be able to collect damages because that requires that your script be formally copyrighted.
 
i have no idea if it's legal to do in other countries...

but for me, it is. As long as i can prove it is mine according to our copyright laws, i can collect damages if i win the court case. Our law specifically states that there is no need to formally copyright your script to collect damages. The moment you wrote it, it was "formally" copyrighted.

And considering youtube timestamps everything, and unless you work for them, you cannot change the date on the video, unlike with the old stamp method where you could do stuff with the envelope.

but i do not pretend to give legal advice, i just state what i have found out holds true for my country. Those are the rules that covers me.
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
indiePRO
It's similar to the "mail it to yourself" trick that people used to do with CDs.
This method will not hold up in court if your copyright is violated.

I admire the creativity some people use to avoid registering the
copyright. I don't understand why - but you sure are creative.

I can't help but wonder:

A writer uses an unproven method to save $35. Their script is stolen
and a movie is made. The writer sues for damages and the prodCo's
highly paid lawyer pokes holes in the unproven method and the writer
loses. Will the writer still feel saving $35 a few years earlier was the
right choice?

But I get it. To some of you $35 is an amount you just can't raise so
alternative methods must be done. Congrats on coming up with creative
ways to save money.
 
I give you all right at this point. But what I think doesn't matter. The legal system is a
wild horse and not to be trusted by anyone, except for those with personal relationships
to the judges. A CD might very well prove a case to 99%, but will still be ruled out. The
reason to that is surprisingly stupid. Say, that they who have stolen your idea, have
checked if you have copyrighted it. If you haven't the legal system will support the
criminal. Why? Because you amateurs have practically tricked them and must be thought
a lesson to stay away and not play amateur lawyers. That's why words like "unproven
method" counts a lot more than common sense tells us.
 
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