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hdmdc
08-17-2006, 02:06 PM
My option agreement states that the company owns all "revisions, rewrites, and polishes" forvever. I've had conversations with the producer (though I was never given notes) and changes in the script were made. Some of the changes were made by me, without any input from the producer at all. The version that exists now is different than the script that was optioned.

After the option expires and the rights revert back to me, what can I do so that I own the current (changed) version of the script?

Thanks in advance.

jimjimgrande
08-17-2006, 04:12 PM
when you get it back, "rewrite" it again, creating a new version that is exclusively yours.

hdmdc
08-17-2006, 09:27 PM
But my "rewrite" will have "similarities" to the version they own. Will they just let it go? Fight it legally? Make me buy it back? Is there an "industry standard" or "common practice" here?

Thanks

Goon Squad
08-18-2006, 08:50 PM
Don't worry, under an option they don't own anything until they buy it from you. The only "right" they possess is the right of exclusivity - a priviledge you grant them for a price (hopefully) which just means they and only they can shop it or try to put it together for whatever period of time. That's it. Even during the option period you still own the script and all rewrites and etc unless they drop the hammer and buy it from you.


Don't worry about it. :)

BROUGHCUT
08-20-2006, 09:23 AM
My option agreement states that the company owns all "revisions, rewrites, and polishes" forvever. I've had conversations with the producer (though I was never given notes) and changes in the script were made. Some of the changes were made by me, without any input from the producer at all. The version that exists now is different than the script that was optioned.

After the option expires and the rights revert back to me, what can I do so that I own the current (changed) version of the script?

Thanks in advance.

Rights for the script and unpaid rewrites do not revert, they were yours all along. Control of the material effectively reverts as the producer loses his exclusive option to buy when the option lapses.

Here's how it should have worked: unless the deal was with a studio, you should have negotiated for control of paid rewrites to 'revert' to you when the option lapsed. ie you, the work for hire writer, effectively have an exclusive option to acquire the rewrite for a pre-agreed sum stated in the reversion clause (remuneration of writing fees, maybe with interest and other costs) after the option expires. In these circumstances, prodco can not decline to sell you your rewrites if you find another buyer. But you still have to pay them back (typically before principal photography, I believe)

Free rewrites are not works for hire, at least not unless you signed a certificate of authorship granting them ownership for whatever 'adequate consideration' you agreed upon. Otherwise they don't have a claim to the material afaik (ianal).

If you were paid for rewrites and do not have a reversion clause then it is more tricky, but there's little reason for the prodco to want to hold onto the pages if you are prepared to buy them back in the future. Without owning the underlying script it is impossible for the prodco to exploit the rewrites in any way shape or form, so they may was well cash them in.

hdmdc
08-20-2006, 10:01 AM
Thanks for the replies. My contract states that all rewrites for the Prodco are free and that, as I stated above, all revisions, rewrites and polishes they will own. After the option expires, I guess I'll have to buy back my revisions.

But, couldn't I just make "revisions" to the revisions and claim it as a new script. As suggested above.

Thanks again.

Goon Squad
08-20-2006, 07:38 PM
Thanks for the replies. My contract states that all rewrites for the Prodco are free and that, as I stated above, all revisions, rewrites and polishes they will own. After the option expires, I guess I'll have to buy back my revisions.

But, couldn't I just make "revisions" to the revisions and claim it as a new script. As suggested above.

Thanks again.


If they own anything then this is not an option, you SOLD your script to them. Congrats on the sale.

Did you sign a contract without getting a legal eagle to look at it?

jimjimgrande
08-20-2006, 07:43 PM
Most legit companies would not come after you if you were to create a new draft of your script that incorporated ideas that came from the development process while your script was under option.

Then again, there are aspiring Bob Yaris out there, and if something comes of your script, there's always the chance they'll come out of the woodwork looking for a piece of the action just because money is on the table. But even in that scenario, they'll be doing battle against another production company and it'll be out of your hands.

When you send it out again, be up front about the fact that your script has been optioned previously and that you rewrote it after it reverted back to you. The chances of legal action being taken against you are slim and the ******* who decides to do it will be motivated by ego, not documented fact. Review any written notes they've given you and if possible try to avoid those changes specifically.

And as previous posts have highlighted, it's hard to imagine a viable contract in which unpaid rewrites are owned by a production company that has not exercised an option to purchase that same material. I'd say that even in a worst case scenario, you ought to be able to get a better lawyer than the one they're using and they'll get squashed like pests.

jkk, can I get an amen?

BROUGHCUT
08-21-2006, 01:55 PM
"adequate consideration"

Did you sign anything else besides an option/purchase agreement indicating drafts are works for hire--such as a "Certificate of Authorship"? Register your new draft asap with the US copyright office.

And out this "prodco"!

hdmdc
08-21-2006, 08:41 PM
Never signed anything but the option agreement.

Does copyrighting the script offer any more protection than registering it with the WGAW? (which I have done)

But thanks everyone for all the info.

Amen, Jimjimgrande

ylekot43
08-29-2006, 02:22 PM
Never signed anything but the option agreement.

Does copyrighting the script offer any more protection than registering it with the WGAW? (which I have done)

But thanks everyone for all the info.

Amen, Jimjimgrande


You can't state a cause of action for copyrite infringement unless the work is actually copyrited. In otherwords, without the copyrite, your case will be thrown out of court.

gruss
06-25-2007, 08:40 PM
You can't state a cause of action for copyrite infringement unless the work is actually copyrited. In otherwords, without the copyrite, your case will be thrown out of court.

From the U.S. Copyright Office web site:

When is my work protected?
Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.

Do I have to register with your office to be protected?
No. In general, registration is voluntary. Copyright exists from the moment the work is created. You will have to register, however, if you wish to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. work. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section “Copyright Registration (http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.html#cr).”

Why should I register my work if copyright protection is automatic?
Registration is recommended for a number of reasons. Many choose to register their works because they wish to have the facts of their copyright on the public record and have a certificate of registration. Registered works may be eligible for statutory damages and attorney's fees in successful litigation. Finally, if registration occurs within 5 years of publication, it is considered prima facie evidence in a court of law. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section “Copyright Registration (http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.html#cr)” and Circular 38b (http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ38b.pdf), Highlights of Copyright Amendments Contained in the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA), on non-U.S. works.

ylekot43
06-26-2007, 01:25 AM
It is of course copyrighted as soon as you write it. What I'm saying is that even though it is copyrighted, you do not have standing to file your complaint in federal court until it is registered with the library of congress.

Registering a script with the library of congress takes about five months. My point is that if someone ganks your work, if you havent registered it, it will take you minimum five months to drag them into court. By then... particulary if it's overseas, you'll have a pretty hard time enforcing the judgment that you are entitled to.