• Wondering which camera, gear, computer, or software to buy? Ask in our Gear Guide.

copyright Protecting my baby from the big scary world

As you are no doubt all sick of hearing from me... I am very nearly finished the 1st full draft of my script.

I have a few changes I need to make, removing all my director/camera notes and triple checking my atrocious spelling, but it is very close to completion.
However, and this is where I am hoping for any advice or opinions, I have two people, who could potentially be very important to the project, interested in seeing the current draft. One of these people I know quite well and the other is a resent connection, that I am super stoked to have, possibly, onboard.

Is there anything I can do to prevent, or at least alleviate any potential plagiarism, unauthorised distribution or general underhanded skulduggery?

I've always been on the receiving end of NDA's and contracts, that require the selling of your first born, and know very little (nothing) about safe guarding my own IP.

Any help would be amazing, as I hope to get these two copies out soon.

Thank you all
Last edited:


IndieTalk's Resident Guru
There is nothing you can do.

You can register the copyright. You can register with the Writers Guild.
Look up both methods for all the info.

While they both may help after the fact, there is nothing you can do to
prevent someone from plagiarism or unauthorized distribution.
Thank you Directorik,
I feared as much. I did stumble across this:

How do I copyright my work?
Basically in Britain copyright is automatic; as soon as a work is realised in actual form - such as writing it down. This means you don't actually have to do anything other than write down your ideas to gain copyright.

and this:

Registered Post Method
All you do is put the script in an envelope attaching a letter to the script, stating you are doing this for proof of copyright, sign and date it with independent witnesses to sign and date it with their contact details. Seal all openings with a label and write " copyright @ YEAR, YOUR NAME ", across all openings. Then, seal with clear sellotape (so no one can tamper with it). Remember to mark it clearly on the outside: the script name, by yourself, copyright date, format: i.e. synopsis, treatment, script. So firstly you will not open it (thinking someone's sent you something really exiting through the post!) and secondly, you will know exactly what it is inside (as I'm sure you plan to write more than one screenplay!). Then you go to the Post Office and send it to yourself by registered or recorded post (i.e. something that is recorded and signed for). When you receive it put it in a very safe place - and DON'T OPEN IT!!!!!! What ever you do - DO NOT OPEN IT when you receive it, as this is your proof and the whole point.

They call it the 'poor mans registration' (a title that fits, sadly!) Has anyone here actually done this?

The writers guild of great britain wanted 200 quid to join, and then there is no certainty that it's any more benefit that the 'poor mans registration'. There is the possibility of BECTU, but I let my membership lapse when I was working locations.

If anyone has any suggestions for registration (UK) I'd be very grateful, even thou, as directorik states, it's probably a token gesture

Thank you again all.
If you are going to sell the script, register it with writers guild. I have heard that this method is one of the easiest and most secure.

If you are just handing it for creation in good faith, and this person isn't a Hollywood exec or studio... Don't waste your time or money protecting it. Chances are, no one is going to steal it unless you post it publicly somewhere (cough, cough... Like this forum). <==== Not saying this is a forum where ideas are stolen, just saying don't post it publicly in places similar.

All you need in court to prove you own the piece is the original document/concept in the early writing stages. If you have all your notes, copies, rewrites, then that is proof enough. Keep that somewhere safe in your home.

Putting your name on the document automatically "protects" the document as your original work.

It really isn't as big of a deal as people make it out to be.

Here is a blurb from legalzoom about scripts:

Copyrights cannot protect ideas. That means that a script copyright or screenplay copyright protects a script or screenplay you have written, but it does not protect your general idea or concept for a movie or TV show. A script has copyright protection as soon as it has been written.
Last edited:
Thank you onebaldman.
I really can't envision anything untoward is going to happen by simply sending a copy, or two, out to some interested parties.

I'm not going to sell it (I'd have an easier time selling London bridge to some sucker in Arizona!) and, to be honest, if someone did post it on a forum or social media outlet, I think I'd be oddly honored that they deemed it worthy.


Staff Member
The writers guild of great britain wanted 200 quid to join,

The Writers Guild in the US offers a script registration service separate from membership - it costs less than $50, although I don't recall the exact amount. You might want to check a bit further and see if the British guild offers something similar.

EDIT: Here's the wikipedia summary re WGA script registration. I don't think it's limited to the US.

Last edited:


IndieTalk's Resident Guru
Even in the States copyright is automatic. However, registering the copyright give you a legal, uncontesable "date of".

The "poormans copyright" has never held up in court. It's too easy to fake.

The WGA registration is important to US based Guild members - it's a bit of a scam for non members because in any legal matter it doesn't really help.


IndieTalk Founder
Staff Member
They all take lawyers and money to prove anyway. So forget poor man's, it becomes rich man's if you need to prove it.

The best you can do is copyright, WGA, or both. And move on with your life. :)
Don't worry onbaldman.
If there is one thing I've learned from my time in this industry it is 'Never pay for anything with your own money'
( can't remember who told me that... but it must have been a producer 😉)
Don't worry onbaldman.
If there is one thing I've learned from my time in this industry it is 'Never pay for anything with your own money'
( can't remember who told me that... but it must have been a producer 😉)

Haha, well I don't know about that... I'm pretty sure that applies to renting equipment. But for copyrights for a first script, its a little much.