PDA

View Full Version : Is copyrighting work essential for a UK writer?


9Ball
11-06-2010, 12:18 PM
sending work to agents, managers and production companies in the US?

I've read quite a few of the threads already about copyright but I'm still unsure whether it is essential for me as a UK writer.

The LoC US Copyright Office states that-

Before an infringement suit may be filed in court, registration
is necessary for works of U. S. origin.

So this seems to indicate that if you were a US citizen and felt as though someone had stolen your work, you'd need to have had the work registered with the LoC US Copyright Office in order to take the thieving party to court and get any kind of compensation (have I understood that correctly?)

However as my work is of a UK origin, does this mean if I felt as though someone in the US had stolen my idea, I could take them to court for infringement without needing to have registered my work with the US Copyright Office beforehand?

Also, I'm under the impression that copyrighting work isn't necessary at all for the UK/Australian market, as in much the same was as the US (aside from the clause I'm unsure of above), work is copyrighted the moment it is created - is that correct?

If this is the case, are computer files and sent/received emails proof enough of date of creation? If someone stole my work in the UK, could I simply just take them to court using computer files as evidence?

Does anyone have any experience of selling in the UK / US market without copyrighting their work?

Thanks for any help on this. Sorry if this is already well trodden on ground.

RGF
11-06-2010, 04:51 PM
It's fairly inexpensive, and easy to do over the internet. And it's always a good idea to have that extra layer of protection. Plus, many management co's, agents and prodcos will request a release form from you. And on many of these release forms you must give them your WGA reg # or Copyright number. It's really a no-brainer....and I think it should be a no-brainer for anyone creating a piece of work, no matter where you create it, and no matter where you market it.

Mac H.
11-07-2010, 12:13 AM
The LoC US Copyright Office states that-

Before an infringement suit may be filed in court, registration
is necessary for works of U. S. origin.

So this seems to indicate that if you were a US citizen and felt as though someone had stolen your work, you'd need to have had the work registered with the LoC US Copyright Office in order to take the thieving party to court ..Yes - copyright registration is just part of the bundle of paperwork of filing this type of lawsuit.

It doesn't have to be done before the work is stolen.

so, I'm under the impression that copyrighting work isn't necessary at all for the UK/Australian market, as in much the same was as the US (aside from the clause I'm unsure of above), work is copyrighted the moment it is created - is that correct?

If this is the case, are computer files and sent/received emails proof enough of date of creation? If someone stole my work in the UK, could I simply just take them to court using computer files as evidence?
ALL written work is covered by copyright the moment it is written. Even in the USA (despite their curiosity of having a registration system).

The problem with a registration system is that it isn't actually proof that you created it .. only that you had access to a copy of it at that point.

Ditto for the emails you sent and received - it proves that you had access to a copy .. but doesn't actually PROVE that you created it. In reality - there is no 'proof' - only evidence.

Of course you can take them to court using only emails. You can take them to court with a lot less.

Recently here in Australia we had a case where a guy was convinced that a band had stolen a song from him. He took them to court - the case stretched over at least a year.

He had no evidence. He remembered that he'd had a beer with the band and written them some lyrics on a napkin - but when they proved that the date was impossible he 'remembered' another date.

And the guy he said he gave the napkin to would have only been 15 when he was drinking beer with the random stranger in the pub !

To know-one's great surprise - he lost. But not until after he had smeared the band's name in the media.

So you can start a lawsuit with zero evidence if you want.

Anyway,

Good luck !

Mac

Alliebro
11-07-2010, 12:41 AM
What RGE said, plus:

The UK, the US and most other civilized countries of the world are signitories of the Berne Convention which requires its members to recognize copyrights on work from authors in any other signitory country as they would do for those from their own country.

You in the UK needn't obtain a copyright in the US. Getting it done in the UK will provide the copyright protection in the US and in all the other signitory countries also.

But do, indeed, get your work copyrighted, especially before sending it out anywhere.

9Ball
11-07-2010, 03:26 AM
Hi guys,

Thanks for all the responses. I'm afraid i'm still unsure whether registering copyright is essential for me.

You in the UK needn't obtain a copyright in the US. Getting it done in the UK will provide the copyright protection in the US and in all the other signitory countries also.

But do, indeed, get your work copyrighted, especially before sending it out anywhere.

If copyright exists the moment I create something, why would I need to do this? Besides which, In the UK we don't have the equivalent of the US Copyright Office - we have services like the WGA that will date stamp your work but nothing like the copyright registration offered by the LoC, I believe it's deemed unnecessary.

I'm really looking for a legal stance on this if submitting work to the US without copyright. If I feel like someone has nicked it, can i take them to court?

nic.h
11-07-2010, 04:14 AM
Either register it with the WGA or use the copyright office, then you don't hae to worry, plus you're ready for those prodcos and managers who like you to cite a reference number.

In other words, you don't need to do it for legal reasons, but it makes things easier for those companies who are a bit shy reading material that isn't registered. It doesn't cost much, and there's nothing to lose by registering it.

Does that make sense? While it won't guarantee you anything beyond what you already automatically have (that is, copyright), it does save a few headaches for those especially stringent organisations who like to protect THEMSELVES against claims of plagiarism, etc.

Sometimes, not having a registration number (either copyright or WGA) can slow things down. Not worth it for the small fee. Just pay it and be done.

NikeeGoddess
11-07-2010, 08:25 AM
If copyright exists the moment I create something, why would I need to do this?

I'm really looking for a legal stance on this if submitting work to the US without copyright. If I feel like someone has nicked it, can i take them to court?this copyright statement is of it's purest form but it doesn't hold up as evidence. in school you can write a paper and the kid next to you could write the exact same paper. you both turn it in and the teacher accuses one of you of cheating (copying from the other)... but which one? who wrote it first? this is we need to copyright.

our LOC copyrights all written documents but the wga was created strictly for the film and motion picture industry. by registering with the wga you date stamp your work. this is probably all you need to do. and since you're east of the pond go here: http://wgaeast.org/
just do it and stop worrying.

btw - if someone important stole your work then you should be flattered ;)

9Ball
11-07-2010, 08:50 AM
Just pay it and be done.

I don't like paying for anything unless I absolutely have to! ;)

you're ready for those prodcos and managers who like you to cite a reference number

In everyones experience in submitting within the US, how often does this happen?

our LOC copyrights all written documents but the wga was created strictly for the film and motion picture industry. by registering with the wga you date stamp your work.

Does everyone agree this is a better option for me than the LoC if I do decide to copyright? Does the LoC not date stamp work?

I'm also not convinced that it would be easy to prove work had been stolen, even with WGA registration and having it copyrighted with the LoC - what are everyone else's thoughts on this?

$35 isn't a lot of money in the general scheme of things but any amount of money spent, if not necessary, is a waste.

Thanks for your help on this guys, and Nikee, believe me, I would be flattered!

At this rate, it might be the only chance I get of seeing my work on screen!

RGF
11-07-2010, 06:42 PM
Let's put it this way. You write a script. I'm a director, and I'm looking for scripts to make. You send me the script. I love it, but I'm evil, and I decide to register it under my name as an original work created by me. You don't have it registered anywhere. Therefore, I have the time/date stamp that says that this particular creative work, as written by me, existed on this date. You can't prove that you wrote it first without a lot of hassle.

(Also, WGA expires after five years and will cost you to re-register. LOC is in perpetuity. )

You need to have this layer of protection. Sure, you wrote it, so you have the copyright. But can you PROVE IT after I steal it and register it as my own? I can prove it easier than you can. I have proof. You don't.

Truth is, reputable producers/agents/managers are in the business of finding great new talents. Why would they steal? They want to work wth you. However, there are a lot of bottom feeders out there that will steal. And once the script is out of your possession, who's to say who's eyes could fall upon your script? I had an unregistered treatment stolen early in my career. It can happen. Be protected.