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Old 03-04-2011, 09:41 AM   #3
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 1,082
Default Re: Question about copyright

Originally Posted by tony6pack View Post
Say you copyright a spec. It's 150 pages (this is a made up number) when you copyright it.

But then, down the road, you cut out 30 pages to get the size down.

You start sending your 120 page spec out - it gets sold. Your spec is now the property of a production company. They've only seen the 120 page version you sent them. When you sell it, you transfer the copyright into their name, right?

So who owns those 30 pages you cut out? What if I wanted to use those 30 pages in the future?

Can they somehow get a copy of the 150 page spec through the copyright office?

I assume they own everything at that point including the 150 page version they haven't seen. Would the production company even care about those extra pages?

The copyright establishes legal ownership of the version that's registered with the Copyright Office. You assign that copyright to a company who buys your script. Thus, the company becomes the owner of all 150 pages of the script, even if you cut 30 pages out before you sent it to them.

Copyright attaches to what you register. If you registered 150 pages, when you assign the copyright to a purchaser, you're assigning the copyright as is, not only a portion of it (like 120 of the 150 pages) just because you omitted some of it when you sent out your submissions.

Not to mention the fact that a purchase of a screenplay assigns all right, title and interest to the characters, settings, etc. It's not just the words on the page that they're acquiring. So even if you wanted those 30 pages for some reason, you wouldn't be able to legally use them without the purchaser's permission, unless you fundamentally changed the characters, the setting... everything. From an intellectual property standpoint, there would be no content left in those thirty pages that you could legally use without permission of the purchaser, who acquired the rights to your script and its content.
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