protects creative work; it does not protect useful products (which
are protected by the area of law known as patent) or identifying
marks or symbols (which are protected by the area of law known as
trademark). However, not all creative work qualifies: Copyright
only protects creative works that are orginal works fixed in a tangible
medium of expression. Copyright does not protect ideas, it protects
the expression of ideas (ie: your screenplay). To protect yourself
during pitch meetings, always prepare a written treatment expressing
the ideas you intend to pitch. Source: "The
Writer Got Screwed" by Brooke A. Wharton.
sure you always copyright your work. Do not mail your script
to yourself (the poor man's copyright) and expect to be protected.
This is extremely foolish and offers very little, if any, protection
in a court of law. Register your script with the U.S. Copyright
Office of the Library of Congress and/or the Writers Guild of America.
Fees for either service are only twenty dollars. If you're serious
about your work, it makes good sense to register your script with
Library of Congress/U.S. Copgyright Office: Register your
script with the U.S. Copyright Office by filing out a FORM PA and
returning it with twenty ($20) and two (2) copies of your screenplay.
Registering your copyright with the Library of Congress will serve
to authenticate your claim to copyright should a dispute arise.
Library of Congress copyright registration lasts your lifetime plus
fify (50) years.
Writers Guild of America:
Registration with the Writers Guild offers similar protection with
respect specifically to claims of authorship and date of completion.
A copy of your script and twenty ($20) will register your screenplay
with the Writers Guild for ten (10) years. This registration is
renewable for an additional ten years. The
WGA has two offices. One in Los Angeles know as the WGA West, and
one in New York, WGA East. If you live east of the Mississippi river
you should register with the New York office, and if you live west
of the Mississippi you should register with the WGAw. The WGA provides
immediate documentation if you hand carry your script to their offices.
If you mail your registration, you will receive documentation in
a week or less. They are very efficient. On the other hand, the
last time we checked, the Library of Congress was taking around
26 weeks to document copyright registrations.
registration take the place of copyright? No. Any questions
regarding copyright should be directed to the U.S. Copyright Office
in Washington, D.C. at 1-800-688-9889 or to an attorney specializing
in that area of law.
with the Writers Guild protect titles? No.
help in determining writing credits? Generally, no. If there
is a dispute as to authorship or sequencing of material by date,
then registration may be relevant. Questions concerning the WGA
credit determination procedures should be directed to the Credits
department at (323) 782-4528.
Guild's Registration Service (or Intellectual Property Registry)
registers over 30,000 pieces of literary material each year, and
is available to members and non-members alike. Writers
are invited to submit material to be archived by the Writers Guild
to protect their work. For more information on this service, contact
the Registration department at (323) 782-4500.
WGA Registration Service has been set up to assist writers in establishing
the completion dates of particular pieces of their literary property
written for the fields of radio, theatrical and television motion
pictures, video cassettes/discs and interactive media. Registration
provides a dated record of the writer's claim to authorship of a
particular literary material. If necessary a WGA employee may produce
the material as evidence if legal or official Guild action is initiated.
The Registration Office does not make comparisons of registration
deposits, nor does it give legal opinions, advice or confer any
statutory protections. Registration with the Guild does not protect