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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Screenwriting Discussion    Screenwriting Class  ›  Protection question Moderators: George Willson
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  Author    Protection question  (currently 333 views)
JohnI
Posted: January 3rd, 2019, 12:21pm Report to Moderator
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Had a script that I registered with Wgae and copyrighted. Since then I changed the title and tweaked the ending. About 90% remains rel;actively the same. Do I have to protect it again or is it still copied.
Along the same venue does anybody know how much change would cause the need to redo the protections.
As always thanks in advance.
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FrankM
Posted: January 3rd, 2019, 1:27pm Report to Moderator
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I'll toss in my two cents but would defer to someone with actual experience in producing a script or suing over authorship.

Under US law, copyright is automatic once the creative work is laid down in some tangible form. A tangible form could be just about anything, though speaking/performing your work does not count. Writing out what you want to say ahead of time or recording the performance (even if never published) gets you protected again.

The problem is proving your work was in a certain form as of a certain date. That's where services like WGA come in.

My current understanding is if the current form could only possibly exist as a derivative of your most recently WGA'd version, and you aren't worried about someone stealing the tweaks on their own, the most recent WGA's version should suffice.

A rewrite from page one? You should get a new version in the vault.

Tightening the prose and typo fixes? You're fine with the old one.

Added some spectacular new twist? Judgment call.

Would like to hear from someone with more direct experience in this area, especially if someone has lived through a dispute.


Family feature: Who Wants to Be a Princess? Latest draft (6/2019)
Horror anthology/feature: Glass House Latest draft (2/2019)
Sci-Fi short trilogy: Timmy
Comedy short: Feedback
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hawkeye
Posted: January 3rd, 2019, 8:21pm Report to Moderator
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Just my two cents, as an attorney (but not in this particular field), you don't have to re-register the script just because of some minor changes and a name change.  All you should need to do is add the WGA registration number on your title page of the script with the new name. But as Frank says, if you've rewritten over 50% of the script and you've changed the name, you might want to consider it.  

Gary


My web site and scripts can be found here:

Gary's web site
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Dustin
Posted: January 4th, 2019, 4:21am Report to Moderator
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I've never registered a script and never will. IMO, it's just a waste of money. Here in the UK copyright is automatic.

Proving anything, even with a WGA number isn't going to be easy.

The old method of sending yourself a manuscript is just a good a record as any. Obviously, today you can just email a copy of the script to a trusted person who can then email you it back. There you have a timestamped record of a full copy of your script.

I'd be happy to do that for any writers here that want to better protect their work... and, if it came to it, I'd back them in court too. Although my character from 20 years ago may be questionable, so I'd pick somebody else... but you get the idea.

I see no difference between the two methods aside from one is free.


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Matthew Taylor
Posted: January 4th, 2019, 4:35am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Dustin
I've never registered a script and never will. IMO, it's just a waste of money. Here in the UK copyright is automatic.

Proving anything, even with a WGA number isn't going to be easy.

The old method of sending yourself a manuscript is just a good a record as any. Obviously, today you can just email a copy of the script to a trusted person who can then email you it back. There you have a timestamped record of a full copy of your script.

I'd be happy to do that for any writers here that want to better protect their work... and, if it came to it, I'd back them in court too. Although my character from 20 years ago may be questionable, so I'd pick somebody else... but you get the idea.

I see no difference between the two methods aside from one is free.


I've done the post thing in the past - Never thought about email, I might do that, although I think the chances of anyone stealing my work are pretty slim.

On a similar vein, would sending the script to this site to host be similar? It will have a posting date stamp, your name etc
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Dustin
Posted: January 4th, 2019, 4:53am Report to Moderator
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Yes. Obviously, this is all my opinion. With the WGA, you are merely paying for a timestamped, witnessed record of your script. That's all. The same can be achieved for free. That it's a business at all, I find surprising. It appears, to me, to be a business that operates solely through fear.


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Mr. Blonde
Posted: January 4th, 2019, 12:17pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Dustin
It appears, to me, to be a business that operates solely through fear.


Which ones don't?

In regards to copyright and registering, registering is wholly unnecessary. Copyrighting, if you're in the U.S., is a smart decision, just as a way to cover your ass although, odds are, you won't ever need to.

Now, in regards to the changes, you're trying to protect the execution of your idea. Changing the name doesn't require you to re-register but changing how your script fundamentally plays out does. Of course, that would mean that the new script doesn't even resemble the old one and that's at your discretion.


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Angry Bear
Posted: January 4th, 2019, 12:21pm Report to Moderator
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If I remember correctly, a former member told me that you can copyright a script and when you rewrite it or re-title it you can just simply add it to the original piece as a collection. That way you don't have to pay again either.


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FrankM
Posted: January 4th, 2019, 1:01pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Angry Bear
If I remember correctly, a former member told me that you can copyright a script and when you rewrite it or re-title it you can just simply add it to the original piece as a collection. That way you don't have to pay again either.


Looking at WGA-East, they seem to want separate payment for each document... and would be pleased as punch if you threw in a treatment, a synposis, etc. for good measure.

The fee is $10 per document for dues-paying WGA members (Do we have any of those on this site?), $17 for nonmembers with a student ID, and $25 for nonmember grown-ups.

I think WGA registration is a bit better than the email method only because when and if someone challenges the authenticity of the timestamp, it's WGA's problem not yours to provide a geek who can testify. Whether you think that insurance is worth $25... up to you.


Family feature: Who Wants to Be a Princess? Latest draft (6/2019)
Horror anthology/feature: Glass House Latest draft (2/2019)
Sci-Fi short trilogy: Timmy
Comedy short: Feedback
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Angry Bear
Posted: January 4th, 2019, 1:13pm Report to Moderator
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I was talking about copyright with the Copyright Office a part of the Library of Congress.

WGA is only good for 5 years, I think while copyright is good for 75 (?).


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hawkeye
Posted: January 4th, 2019, 3:05pm Report to Moderator
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This a good article to help answer most, if not all questions related to copyright:

http://www.hanleybradylaw.com/.....he-copyright-office/

Worth a read.

Gary


My web site and scripts can be found here:

Gary's web site
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eldave1
Posted: January 4th, 2019, 5:32pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from hawkeye
This a good article to help answer most, if not all questions related to copyright:

http://www.hanleybradylaw.com/.....he-copyright-office/

Worth a read.

Gary


Great article - thanks


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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JohnI
Posted: January 6th, 2019, 12:36pm Report to Moderator
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Hawkeye - great article thanks
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MarkRenshaw
Posted: January 7th, 2019, 7:56am Report to Moderator
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That article is correct. Registering with a recognised organisation will not protect your material from being stolen, but it does determine how much compensation you will be entitled to and make it easier to prove your claim.

Registering with the Library of Congress not only covers you for decades more than the WGA but you get more compensation.

As to the original question, I tend to register the first draft I'm happy with (to the Library of Congress) and don't bother re-registering on subsequent drafts. If the script changed considerably, I would.


For more of my scripts, stories, produced movies and the ocassional blog, check out my new website. CLICK
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Lon
Posted: January 9th, 2019, 6:57pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Matthew Taylor
I've done the post thing in the past - Never thought about email, I might do that, although I think the chances of anyone stealing my work are pretty slim.

On a similar vein, would sending the script to this site to host be similar? It will have a posting date stamp, your name etc


The post thing -- aka "poor man's copyright" -- doesn't hold up in court.  Mailing a script to yourself via registered mail proves only one thing: the date that you received the script in the mail.  It doesn't prove that you wrote the script even if your name is on it, and it doesn't prove the date on the script cover is the date it was written.  To establish that kind of record, you need to register it with a body like the WGA or LoC.

Script theft is much more a rarity than a common occurrence, mostly because anyone in the biz with half a lick of sense in their head knows it's easier to simply buy your script from you than to steal it, film it, release it, then have to fork over a big settlement to you after you prove in court that they stole it.  Still, better safe than sorry.  WGA or LoC is the way to go.  Some writers even register with both.
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