How to Protect Your Screenplays

Protecting your screenplay is accomplished in several different ways. First, you can protect your screenplay by securing copyright registration with the U.S. Copyright Office. Another traditional, well used method of protecting your screenplay is to simply register it with either the Writer’s Guild of America West or Writer’s Guild of America East. Both registered copyrights and WGAw or WGAe registration provide legal proof of when you authored your screenplay. While there are other, less popular methods of registration, most screenwriters choose to protect their screenplay by registering an official copyright or with the WGAw or WGAe or both.

Legally Speaking, It Depends: They Stole My Movie Idea!

“I have this great idea for a movie, but I’m afraid someone might steal it.” I can’t tell you how many different variations on that conversation starter I’ve heard being an entertainment attorney working with writers and independent filmmakers over the years. And being a screenwriter myself, I know the allure...

Just Effing Ask Julie Gray: Idea Theft – Threat or Myth?

Script consultant Julie Gray is a veteran story analyst of some of the biggest production companies in Hollywood. The author of Just Effing Entertain Me: A Screenwriter’s Atlas, Julie has taught story at Warner Bros. Studios, The Great American PitchFest and Oxford University. Contact Julie here. Dear Julie: There’s an old...

Story Talk: Playwrights Have It Better Than Screenwriters—or Do They?

We’ve all heard the laments: why are playwrights more respected than screenwriters; why do playwrights retain copyright and screenwriters don’t; why do screenwriters get treated like dirt  and playwrights like gods; why can’t you change a single word of a playwright’s work, but it’s okay to completely rewrite a screenwriter’s script?...

Balls of Steel: Pitching Tips

Pitching anxiety. We all get it. I bet even the pros get a teeny knot in their stomach. Honestly, I hope I never lose the barb that snags at my insides. It keeps me on my toes. This weekend, I’m heading to the Great American Pitchfest(GAPF) in Burbank to not only...

Legal Opinion: Is History Copyrightable?

Clark Rockefeller has a way of getting the attention of the law. This time, it’s truly not his fault. Sony’s 2010 made-for-television movie Who is Clark Rockefeller?, which aired on the Lifetime channel, brings back a longtime legal question: Is history protectable under copyright law? The District Court for the District...

Balls of Steel: Managing Expectations

PitchFests are packed with eager writers full of hope and big dreams. Their expectations are sky high, head in the clouds, dreaming of a world where one pitching event would change their destiny. While it’s beautiful up there, you’re better off keeping your feet and expectations on the ground.