Screenwriting : Question about the loglines on the site by Marc Adler

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Marc Adler

Question about the loglines on the site

If I post a bunch of loglines, aren't I begging people to steal my ideas? Should I only post loglines for stories, synopses of which I've registered with the WGA? Thanks!

Bill Costantini

Gee, Marc, that's a hard question to answer without seeing your loglines. Why don't you post them here, and I'll let you know if they're worth stealing?

Marc Adler

Great idea. Let me just register them all, and I'll get back to you. :)

Marc Adler

But speaking in a more ... shall we say abstract vein, are people generally not worried about idea theft?

William G Chandler Jr

I think so. Just carefully figure which ideas you want to post

Jody Ellis

It's not something to really worry about, imo.

Marc Adler

How safe is WGA registration as far as these things go?

Pierre Langenegger

Idea theft is much rarer than you think but you should still do what you can to protect yourself. For the sake of security / piece of mind let’s first look at registration. WGA registration is not worth the price of the sheet of paper they send back to you. If you want to register your stories, register them with the US Copyright Office. Now back to your question of posting loglines. Yes, register your stories first. As soon as you’ve completed your electronic registration, you’ll be presented a registration number and you can feel free to post your loglines straight away.

Bill Costantini

Aw, Marc - don't be such a nitpicker! Heh-heh. In truth, though, you really can't copyright an idea, since ideas can occur at anytime, and by anybody. Here's the law on that. - Section 102 (b) of the Copyright Act..."In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, system, method of operation, concept, principle or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated or embodied in such work." What you can copyright is the specific body of work - your actual script - that follows the idea. If you could copyright an idea....man...what anarchy that would be. I would have already copyrighted every idea known to man, and my Every Log Line in the World Proprietary Software would have been worth the development time I put into it. I'd be more set than a deer tick in a forest. I'd be as happy as a cowboy at a rodeo. I'd be....hmm.....a young brave deer tick convinces a washed-up old moose to wreck havoc at the Rope-a-Dope Rodeo, freeing all of the enslaved cows who then begin to wipe out every fast-food hamburger joint in their path. Yeah....that's a....that's a.....gotta go!

Frederic Lecamus

Bill is right, you can't protect an idea. Anything under a detailed 3-5 pager is too open, and free interpretations are quite common. As for the actual stealing, just keep in mind that no one else can write your idea better than you. Yet, it's not uncommon to see the same inspiration happening at the same time in several writers but with different story developments. Bottom line: if you don't get your scripts out there, you won't get noticed – so don't worry. Ideas are great, execution is primordial. Craft cannot be copied.

Steve Hammon

As soon as you market a screenplay, your concept is out in the world. And you can't copyright an idea, only an expression of an idea. So make sure your script is the best expression out there when you market it. If people steal it, awesome! it means all you need to do is get your scripts to match the awesomeness of your concepts. Chances are no one will ever steal your idea. No one wants your idea. They want you to write their idea. They want their own ideas up on the screen. You will have a hard enough time getting people to read your scripts let alone getting them to take your idea. You would probably have a hard time paying someone to steal your idea. It's just not worth it for them to steal it when people are willing to give them awesome ideas for nothing.

Howard Camner

I disagree that idea theft is "rare". I left LA because my ideas were being stolen by some big names that I should have sued. It's a real Catch 22. There are many crooks wearing suits in high positions in this industry. Mel Brooks stole from me (scenes from "Men in Tights" The movie stunk, but I handed him a similar script a few years before it came out. "Tough Guys" was mine with a small plot change...etc.

Marc Adler

Wow, thanks for all the comments. Yes, I'm aware that you can't copyright an idea (I only mentioned WGA synopsis registration), but I had heard about idea theft and wondered about that. I'll go ahead and finish the screenplay I'm working on now and then post that with the log line. And then I'll do the same for the other ideas I have.

Bill Costantini

It's not just art that benefits from the freedom of expression with regards to ideas. Look at the food business. "Pizza" came from Italy over 1,000 years ago. If freedom of expression of an "idea" was prohibited...there would be one pizza in the world. The same goes for cars. And computers. And any product type that you can name. Ideas are universal and free expressions of thought. God forbid if "ideas" were copyrightable. There would only be one of anything, and not a single one of us is a unique and precious little snowflake, as much as we like to think so at times. When the Internet started taking off in 2000, some guy tried suing every website that was posting pictures on their websites. His cease and desist letters and monetary demands were laughable. He tried to copyright the process of uploading pictures to websites. He also tried to copyright many other processes involved in transferring electronic data from users to websites. Process patenting has its own set of rules, but it was pretty funny...and sad....at the same time. He was quite the failed con man. What if I try to patent the process of posting comments to website forums? Heh-heh.

J Medina

I happen to think idea theft is a real danger. Sad thing is, unless you have contacts, you are pretty much FORCED to take a chance that someone will steal your idea in order to get it seen. Judging by most of the material Hollywood puts out these days, it looks like they are kind of bereft of ideas. Or maybe they are more prone to risking time and money on proven commodities like popular books(or recycling movie franchises!). Bottom line is, it's a dirty business and we are at the mercy of those with the money. I'm thinking more and more that the best thing to do is film your screenplay your damn self. The money may not be there, but the technology certainly exists to make it possible. I just watched a great documentary the other day and the guy filmed it with his CELLULAR PHONE! No disrespect to the fantastic people who run this website, because it's really not their fault, but any of these companies participating in these pitch sessions could totally rip you off after getting a look at your treatment or even after requesting your screenplay. As one of the other posters recounted in his story about being ripped off by Mel Brooks, it HAPPENS. Don't let anyone tell you it doesn't. I've got a friend whose dad was a big time producer in the 1970's, and he had a favorite saying: "You take the credit, and I'll take the cash!". In other words, you can claim my stuff is yours, but make sure I get paid. He told me rip offs were part of the business. We all have dreams and we should pursue them, but do so with your eyes wide open. I don't put anything past anyone, unfortunately. I write because I love to do so. I hope it can be a second career for me, but I'll keep plugging away until they pull the laptop from my lap! LOL.

Jody Ellis

Thing is, somebody on the other side of the country is likely to be having the almost exact same idea as you, and they have the right to execute it just as much as you do. And someone can take your idea, executing it in their own unique way, and there's nothing to be done about it. I wrote a zombie love story script that I finished just as "Warm Bodies" came out. I tried to shop it around a bit, and got "oh it's warm bodies. No." That's life!

Craig D Griffiths

Hi Marc If your idea is so super high concept then a logline may give it away. But I post everywhere as I know I am the only person on this planet that will tell my stories my way. Others can tell a version of my stories, but my voice is my voice. I will write something different to them. I do not fear theft. Yes, it hurts if and when it happens. Think of this, this is not the only story you are ever going to think of and write. You are going to write heaps in your life time. A good metaphor is ants vs people. You kill one ant the entire ant population doesn't come out to kill you. That is because there are millions of ant and this means each ant has less value. A family is made up of a smaller number. You hurt a family member the family is coming to get you. I treat ideas a bit like Ants each one has less value the more I create them. I contribute at logline.it which is a good site. I scrolled back through all the loglines I can posted and helped out on. I had forgotten most of them. Ideas are a building block, not a complete story and definitely not a script. Scripts are like family members.

Michael Giltner

Hi. Just joined and I am not a screenwriter. I write novels that I believe can provide new and exciting ideas for movies and mini-series. My novel "Truth?" is available on Amazon and Banes and Noble but I will provide a free digital copy to anyone that requests one. Please send an email with you contact information and some background.

Pierre Langenegger

Michael, it's best to start your own thread if you want to say something that's not connected to the op. It's also frowned upon to spam other people 's threads.

Regina Lee

To demonstrate how common it is to "have the same idea" -- I taught a Next Level Class on Stage 32 last August. Out of the 15 or so students who participated in the homework assignment, based on their loglines, I would say that 2 students "had the same idea." 2 students out of a sample size of only 15 Stage 32 members!!! I will keep their concepts confidential, but I will say that both loglines were in the same ballpark as THE MARTIAN. As I recall, I think their loglines would have had a very high degree of similarity - like 90% similarity, both about humans going into space for the same purpose. AND there's a project at Paramount with a very similar logline.

Don Krouskop

Unless your idea is ultra-high concept, chances are 100 different writers could write a script based on the exact same logline and they would be 100 completely different scripts. But if you're really concerned about someone stealing your ideas, the question becomes, why are you posting the loglines in the first place? If there's a good chance you might secure an option or a sale, it's probably worth the risk. If you just want people to see your clever ideas and know what a great writer you are, or are just in a general discussion about loglines & such, it might be prudent to resist the temptation.

Pierre Langenegger

Jeff: What benefit is there to registering with the Guild? What do you get for your money?

Pierre Langenegger

I'm unaware of producers checking for registration with the Guild but if that's the case then I'm happy to stand corrected. I didn't think Canada allowed registration through their copyright office, I thought their system was the same as the UK and Australia?

Claire Benedek

It's best to protect your material by registering it with the WGA and Library of Congress.

Jon Davis

You're more likely to be contacted by a producer who wants to option your screenplay than someone taking your logline and coming up with a screenplay that is even close to resembling yours. Your screenplay should have 10,000 intricate details and ideas contained within it that make it extraordinarily unique - and therefore unable to be stolen just because someone saw your logline.

Phillip 'Le Docteur de Script' Hardy

Marc: Apart from all the chat about copyrighting and registering with the WGA or whatever, I'm in agreement with my learned colleague Mister Constantini. Most ideas, loglines and in most cases, completed scripts are hardly worth stealing. And if someone wants my logline that badly, steal the son of a bitch. The best bet is to U.S. Copyright your full script when it's complete. And if you have 25 bucks for some extra garnish, go ahead and register it with the WGA. I'm sure it can't hurt if you have to go to court. But nothing is more solid than a copyright. I copyright all scripts, end of story. I'd spend less time worrying about someone stealing your work, post your loglines and whore your wares to any legitimate party who is interested. If you're that worried, I'd be happy to give you feedback on your loglines offline. I've posted mine here and haven't lost a wink of sleep.

Pierre Langenegger

Debbie: they issue you a registration number immediately as you complete your online registration and you are covered once you get that. However it can take eight months before they mail the actual documents to you but that's not an issue because, as I said, you are covered.

Jody Ellis

Here's an article about protecting your work and why it shouldn't be a big concern. http://www.scriptmag.com/features/primetime-the-truth-about-protecting-y...

Phillip 'Le Docteur de Script' Hardy

Pierre: Definitely taking Office of Copyrights 8 months. I'm still waiting on several hard copies.

Pierre Langenegger

Phillip: my last registration took 2 months when I was expecting a wait of 12, so I was pretty happy about that .

Elisabeth Meier

@Philip - but you get the registration no. immediately and your rights are saved immediately.

Phillip 'Le Docteur de Script' Hardy

@Pierre Two months is good. @Elisabeth I know but I like my hard copy. An old school thing.

Dan Guardino

Thanks for bringing this subject up. I finished a script a couple of months ago and another one this month and I forgot to register them. I think I am better at writing them than I am about remembering to register them. LOL!

David Levy

@Phillip: I recieved two copyright.gov registrations in less than 6 weeks.

Steven Morris

They steal the logline, the steal idea but what they can't steal is YOUR story, your script, your imagination. When I started a guy, who had a way with words, was trying to scam me and I knew it . As if I wasn't his first victim. He said " Your fear-fueld ignorance will be you're destruction." And now I agree. I have so many movies running around in my head even if you stole 5. I'm still good.

Marco Fiorini

As to "GETTING RIPPED-OFF" COPYRIGHT FAZOOLERIA AND FAZOOLARISTS ....Marc(O) Fiorini's BEST FRIEND, WiSE PANDA suggests: "CUT AN AGENT'S DEAL WITH A LOCAL CHAPTER OF THE HELL'S ANGELS. Then making it well understood to the individual, producer and/ or company et al . that the pitch, log line, short/long synopsis, treatment and SCRIPT being submitted for their collaboration is COPYRIGHTED and OWNED by your BIKER -BACKER- BUDDIES ! q.e.d... DISHONESTY PROBLEM SOLVED. WRITE ON, FEARLESSLY, FELLOW CREATORS......Years ago Joseph Wanbaugh , a Los Angeles policeman turned novelist wrote, " The Killing FIelds." a bestseller novel that became an award winning, big grossing film. Anticipating a nice cut from his contractual ( monkey points) slice of the cinematic pie, Joe was informed by the gate-keeping, number crunchers that becoz of blah,blah and smiley legalize horse quackery - that the film hadn't yet turned a profit....SO THE NEXT TIME, JOSEPH CUT A DEAL WITH 'THE INDUSTRY,' HE BROUGHT ALONG HIS BUSINESS PARTNER - a fellow undercover policeman - a Latino buddy in the King Kong genre , with a snub-nosed pistol casually and noticeably tucked in his belt. And Joseph W - a pioneer in the art of keeping things HONEST - lived happily ever after."

Pierre Langenegger

Heh?

Cherie Grant

Honestly, who does steal an idea? Does it really happen that often? And is your idea REALLY that original? I mean truly, honestly, never done before? Come on.

Phil Clarke

Have had a few of my clients in the UK ask similar questions. Think a number of folk on here have covered the truth of it. One question I'd ask - should UK-based screenwriters register with the LoC or are they better acquiring UK copyright?

Phil Clarke

Thanks Oliver. That was my thinking, too. I guess the only reason people might suggest is if you're submitting to US companies/agencies.

Sarah Gabrielle Baron

Can't be "too precious" with your ideas. Get it out there, or it will never be discovered!

Frederic Lecamus

If you don't register your work with the LoC, you're taking the chance that the provider you've used will not be recognised during a US litigation - which by the way turns out to be the most likely country where your script would end. It's your call… I personally always register my scripts in both LoC and a European script registering service (btw thescriptvault does not register your script but does prove the copyright).

Howard Camner

Why do you think "Hollywood" is a rehash factory? Very unoriginal people in power positions out there. And when they do come across something different, they steal it and change it enough to avoid losing a suit. That's the game.

Pierre Langenegger

What sort of protection do you get from The Script Vault?

Mark Vincent Kelly

I would say don't worry too. The implementation of an idea is covered by copyright, not the idea. I would also say register scripts with the wga AND copyright office. If you believe in your baby it's a small price to pay for some peace of mind. I'm not saying either/both are necessary but from this thread alone you can see there is no consensus on the right path to take so in this case I say hedge your bets and follow standard industry practice. There is a reason every studio and production house do it!

Pierre Langenegger

Sorry Oliver but I don't agree. I believe The Script Vault, like all other non Government script registration services, is a scam that simply charges you for storing your script. Hell, I may start up one of those because I'll be able to offer the same level of protection, a timestamp of when I received it from my client which has absolutely no power in a court of law. LoC is legally recognised in the US, all others are not and if you're aiming for the US market, use the LoC, if you're aiming for a Commonwealth market then you don't need any form of registration.

Aray Brown

The only protection you can get is from the Library Of Congress. Even if you register with WGA it only covers you for a year or so til you have to re-register(last time i checked was a long while ago so don't really remember the longevity)

Pierre Langenegger

Aray, you're not even covered for that one year with WGA. WGA registration has no validity in court when making a claim.

Aray Brown

Agreed, Pierre :)

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