Screenwriting : Copyright by Patrick Morgan Harrison


Have two books with stories in which I am interested in developing screenplays. Is there a site on the web, anyone know, where they give the ins and outs of writing a screenplay based on copyright material? Contact the owner? write the screenplay first and submit to owner (they might take ownership) , has anyone come upon a site which discusses and addresses proper and legal procedure which protects original screenplay ??

Kerry Douglas Dye

Yes, don't write a single word yet. You probably don't want to hear this, but you need to talk to a lawyer. Getting written permission from the author that says "I authorize you to write a screenplay based on my idea", doesn't mean much. You still don't own the idea, couldn't sell or produce it, etc. You need a more elaborate contract than just simple permission. I'm no lawyer so I couldn't speculate about all the legal ins and outs. But this is not territory you want to venture into without professional legal guidance.

Patrick Morgan Harrison

Thanks for the information, both books are biographies of well-known persons and publisher has reprinted and has copyright. Thanks for replying, Patrick

Kerry Douglas Dye

I see. Nonfiction about well-known persons is a very different story. Again, talk to a lawyer, but if you're researching a public or historical figure, gathering historical data from different sources (copyrighted or otherwise), that's a very different situation. Lincoln's biographer doesn't own the copyright on the story of Lincoln's assassination. I guess it depends on how much you're relying on a single source and whether you're using it for specific aspects of the storytelling (a specific narrative approach, point of view, characterization, etc.) Though, again, I'm no lawyer. I just enjoy speculating about lawyerly things.

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