Screenwriting : Copyright? by Passion K. Shanks

It's Introduce Yourself Weekend on Stage 32! Who are you? What have you been working on? We want to know! Head over to the Introduce Yourself Lounge and network with your fellow creatives - you never know when you'll make a connection that will change your career!

Passion K. Shanks

Copyright?

Does anyone know WHERE to get your script copyrighted? And how much? Please anyone?

Rachael Saltzman

You mail it to the Library of Congress. $35.

Amber Epling

You can go to the WGAwest online and pay 20.00 to have it done.

Passion K. Shanks

thank you guys!

Rachael Saltzman

Yup. You can also register with the WGA (which some studios require, and you'll get a number) but you have to renew every five years. Poor man's copyright (mailing to yourself) is a myth and has never stood up in court.

Lucifer Divinitas

Mailing it to yourself will NOT hold up in court. Spend the $20 http://www.copyright.gov/

Nikki April Lee

I use Hollywood Script Express. $20 gets it registered for five years. They give you a printable certificate and reciept for your records. I like it. =) It may not be through the Library of Congress but the way I see it, as long as there's some form of proof out there to show that your script did exist at some point, that all you need. =)

Tiffy Diamond

I always get my scripts WGA registered. It's the norm in Hollywood and usually they ask for your WGA registration number when submitting scripts. It only cost about $25 and lasts 5 years.

Jedediah Jenk

Use WGA and US Copyright Office.

Jedediah Jenk

@ Nikki and Tiffy, you cannot file a claim unless you are registered with the US Copyright Office.

Rik Carter

Registering your script is not the same as filing the copyright. It's a myth that "Hollywood" needs a WGA number. No producer, agent or prodCo will require a WGA number. I have never once been asked. If there is ever the need for legal proof nothing is better than an official copyright.

Passion K. Shanks

Thank you for the feedback. What about copyrighting a whole season from a script? Like a TV script?

Rik Carter

You still register the copyright at copyright.gov. One script, ten scripts, an entire TV season of scripts - go to copyright.gov

Rik Carter

Registering your script with the Guild and registering the copyright are two different things.

Matt Milne

registering a script is a good idea. They're very easy to steal.

Jett West

US Copyright office. $30 - $40. WGA I think is around $15.

Rik Carter

And will worth the extra money. If there is ever a legal dispute a WGA registration will not help in court whereas the official Government copyright notice will.

Passion K. Shanks

ok so copyrighting comes first got it thank you again for the feedback!

Vasco Phillip de Sousa

Technically, copyright is automatic when work is on paper, but the Library of Congress provides legal proof. The WGA is only respected in Hollywood studios, and the British Intellectual property office indirectly says it doesn't work. Interestingly, "poor man's copyright" can be evidence in Britain, if it is sent registered mail (and sealed.) However, that isn't much cheaper than LOC. (Which is 35 dollars online, and more by mail.) In Britain, it's more important to keep all your drafts, as this is more likely to be useful as evidence in court. (It's an idea in the US too.)

Rik Carter

Technically copyright is automatic. If there is a legal issue it sure helps to have the official registration date. I know people jump through hoops to avoid the $35 fee but it seems to me a worthy expenditure. No need to do both so a writer can save the WGA expense. Doesn't hurt to do both - but both are not needed.

Vasco Phillip de Sousa

http://www.copyright.gov/ $35 simple as that. Or, if you're in DC, you can walk right up to the building. But be warned, they take a long time, and it's not the easiest website to use. I found posting it much simpler (form PA), but the price of posting it has gone up (the advantage is you can pay by check then.)

Glen Kinnaird

WGA is only $25, .gov is going to take forever to get it back to you. WGA is 5 to 7 business days. Do both, but you will hear from WGA a lot faster.

Rik Carter

No need at all Jacqueline.

Rik Carter

And the WGA will only act as arbitrators between a signatory company and a WGA member. Not between writers (idea stolen) or a writer and producer of a non guild project. Dan is correct, the moment the LOC receives the script your official registration is recorded.

Tiffy Diamond

@Jedediah Jenk In all honesty I just don't feel like ideas get stolen like everyone thinks. So Ill stick with WGA. People get weird about others knowing what their script idea is about. I'm a screenwriter I have a dozen ideas in my head and in screenplay form, as do most screenwriters. Why in the world would I want your idea? When I haven't even gotten to all of mine. Studios/Companies get pitches all day, they don't want the headache of a lawsuit thats why so many don't even take unsolicited material. I really just feel like WGA is enough if I got ever script WGA registered and Copywritten I'd be broke right now. haha :) But everyone must do what they're comfortable with. :)

Pierre Langenegger

Hi Passion, This is the only service you should be using, U.S. Copyright Office and it costs $35. http://www.copyright.gov/eco/ Don't waste your money with WGA as it doesn't prove registration in a court of law.

Cory Wess

To clarify between WGA registration and Copyright registration: Upon the creation of a complete and unique work the US automatically recognizes your copyright. It is now your duty to protect your copyright and sue any infringes. However in order to sue them, you must register with the copyright office. Therefore, in the event that you registered with WGA, and must sue someone, now you must also register with the USCO. Further, if you register after the fact, of course this assumes you can prove first creation, but also you can only sue for actual damages and lost profits. If you register before the infringement you may sue for statutory damages (up to $150k per work) and attorney's fees. References: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright#Obtaining_and_enforcing_copyright http://www.writersstore.com/wgaw-registration-vs-copyright-registration/

Diane Gowing

At what stage should you copyright your work? I'm applying for a "script lab" at LSF. Should the work be copyrighted before then, given that it will probably be revised in the light of feedback? I've also been advised that only amateurs (and arrogant ones at that) worry about copyright, but not sure that's actually the case?As a worried amateur I would appreciate advice!

Jett West

If the script is finished and will just be touched up, I'd go ahead and copyright it. If there's going to be a major re-write, you might want to wait. I always copyright my work, regardless of who I'm going to be sending to, just to project myself. It's not required, however, that you include any copyright information when submitting the script and I've heard that doing so does bother some people, although I've never experienced it personally. But again, I would suggest always copyrighting your work just for your own piece of mind.

Diane Gowing

Thanks for the advice, and the website address.

Lendell Wallace

Make sure you also copyright your Synopsis too.

Diane Gowing

Thanks Lendell I wouldn't have thought of that - Diane

Lendell Wallace

You're welcome Diane. Good luck with future endeavors.

Other topics in Screenwriting:

register for stage 32 Register / Log In