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Old 08-14-2019, 12:45 PM   #1
Merrick
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Default Copyright and who to send your script to

A few questions now that I'm wrapping up my first script.

* I suppose it is advisable to copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office the final version you intend to send out, as well as register your script with the WGA?

* Do you always wait until after you've received approval to then send your script to others? (U.S. Copyright wait time is 3 months! - you must be able to send before it's cleared?)

* Do you write copyright or WGA registration number or put any copyright information on the title page of the script? I've heard no.

* How do you decide who NOT to send your script to? Is it okay to send to all friends, family, acquaintances, whomever? I've read the likelihood of theft is so low, but it seems like you have to be somewhat choosy. For instance, I clicked on a few people's websites through here, and they usually include title / logline / and a bit of extra info but not full scripts.

All help appreciated on this front.
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Old 08-14-2019, 03:00 PM   #2
GucciGhostXXX
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Default Re: Copyright and who to send your script to

Uh oh...

Now you're beginning to have me worried for you. This is your VERY FIRST SCRIPT? And it's 170 pages? Ummmm... just saying, this ain't looking good. But do you.

As for your questions: Don't worry about any of it. I've sold something that was unregistered and not copyrighted. In fact, I've sold a lot of music that way as well. No one's gonna steal it. You'd have to beg them to steal it. I haven't registered my last 5 scripts and they've gone out that way via rep. No one cares.

DO NOT put anything on your title page other than: Title. Your name. Your rep's name/company. No date of draft, phone numbers, email, website, none of that. If they love it, they'll find you.

Send it to ANYONE who'll read it. Literally anyone. Sign nothing until it's real (your lawyer will tell you when that is) other than a standard release.

TRUTH: The odds of you getting repped off a 170 page first script are incredibly low. I got signed off my first script, but it was 114 pages and I'd already spent 10 years reading scripts and giving notes on my ex's client's scripts. And I already knew how the town functioned, mostly.

Good luck!
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Old 08-14-2019, 05:43 PM   #3
Centos
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Default Re: Copyright and who to send your script to

Quote:
Originally Posted by Merrick View Post
A few questions now that I'm wrapping up my first script.

* I suppose it is advisable to copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office the final version you intend to send out, as well as register your script with the WGA?
My understanding is that, unless you plan substantial changes, you can copyright your script now and the copyright will be good as long as you're only making minor changes or correcting grammar or format. In the U.S. you can register online, I'm not sure if that option is available out of the country, but I think it is.

WGA registration, apparently, applies to the specific script you're sending out. Of the two, copyright registration gives you the most legal protection. WGA registration is used for credit arbitration, I believe.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Merrick View Post
* Do you always wait until after you've received approval to then send your script to others? (U.S. Copyright wait time is 3 months! - you must be able to send before it's cleared?)
No. Your screenplay is copyrighted automatically, the minute you complete it. What copyright registration does is to establish (on the record) that your copyrighted material is yours. I believe you have to wait until the registration process has completed to file an infringement lawsuit. That's supposed to take about six months if you file online. Probably long before anyone could infringe.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Merrick View Post
* Do you write copyright or WGA registration number or put any copyright information on the title page of the script? I've heard no.
I don't think so. I think I would just put the copyright notice (c) on the title page.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Merrick View Post
* How do you decide who NOT to send your script to? Is it okay to send to all friends, family, acquaintances, whomever? I've read the likelihood of theft is so low, but it seems like you have to be somewhat choosy. For instance, I clicked on a few people's websites through here, and they usually include title / logline / and a bit of extra info but not full scripts.

All help appreciated on this front.
Research. You don't send the script out randomly or before you make arrangements with those to whom you want to send it to. That means you'll have to research those agents, studios and production companies most likely to be interested in your script, pitch your script and ask them to read it then send it if they say yes. There's a FAQ on the old misc.writing.screenplays about how to go about this (even when you don't have an agent). I'll see if I can find it.
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Old 08-14-2019, 05:57 PM   #4
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Default Re: Copyright and who to send your script to

Quote:
Originally Posted by Centos View Post
I think I would just put the copyright notice (c) on the title page.
Nah... don't do this. No one does it. Never seen it. It'll alert them that you don't know how this works, it'll signal "amateur" to them. Don't raise an unnecessary red flags.

Good luck!
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Old 08-14-2019, 06:06 PM   #5
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Default Re: Copyright and who to send your script to

I used to do all that copyright crap. All of it. Mail script to self. WGA. Copyright office. Maybe I did put number on title page and copyright symbol.

Now I just write DON'T YOU STEAL THIS and it works just as well.

Seriously, I don't do anything either. I don't get the point for scripts now that I've been doing it.

Just by sending the email you have more proof than you need.
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Old 08-14-2019, 06:33 PM   #6
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Default Re: Copyright and who to send your script to

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Originally Posted by Bono View Post
I used to do all that copyright crap. All of it. Mail script to self. WGA. Copyright office. Maybe I did put number on title page and copyright symbol.

Now I just write DON'T YOU STEAL THIS and it works just as well.

Seriously, I don't do anything either. I don't get the point for scripts now that I've been doing it.

Just by sending the email you have more proof than you need.
Same...

Started doing this way back in my 20s when I was in bands. Send myself the demo in the mail (as copyright). Copyright EVERYTHING through the copyright office. Same with when I began screenwriting.

Nowadays...?

Meh... the email documenting when it was sent is more than enough.

You can get away with some outta the box stuff. Example: My previous script had a bunch of trippy non-courier font (several different fonts). Rep thought it was cool, since it was done to taste. My new one has a picture of myself as a kid on the title page because it's autobiographical. Rep was fine with that too. But, if I added a (c) I'm certain he'd be like "Dude, what's with the copyright stuff? Delete and send back. Unnecessary."
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Old 08-14-2019, 06:37 PM   #7
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Default Re: Copyright and who to send your script to

When I read about lawsuits, it seems the copyright never comes up. They always talk about email trail, computer documents, meetings, etc as proof...

Because even if I copyright my work in 2004 and they sell same concept in 2015 doesn't mean they stole my work....
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Old 08-14-2019, 06:41 PM   #8
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Default Re: Copyright and who to send your script to

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bono View Post
When I read about lawsuits, it seems the copyright never comes up. They always talk about email trail, computer documents, meetings, etc as proof...

Because even if I copyright my work in 2004 and they sell same concept in 2015 doesn't mean they stole my work....
TRUTH...
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Old 08-15-2019, 12:08 AM   #9
Merrick
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Default Re: Copyright and who to send your script to

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Originally Posted by GucciGhostXXX View Post
Now you're beginning to have me worried for you. This is your VERY FIRST SCRIPT? And it's 170 pages? Ummmm... just saying, this ain't looking good. But do you.
I know, I know.

OK thank you all.

Probably just for safety, I will submit to the copyright office and then send it out to others while pending. I don't have a rep, so this seems like the simplest way.

It sounds like it's pretty okay to send to whomever, just don't send to everyone. But industry people, potential investors, other writers, close friends all okay.
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Old 08-15-2019, 07:16 AM   #10
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Default Re: Copyright and who to send your script to

Copyright it now. That will secure the date, and they'll send you tracking info. (You don't need to re-register new versions.)

The (c) office is not going to refuse it unless you've done something wrong -- like I did, when I sent in previously-published (but unregistered) shorts, and tried to copyright them all together as an anthology. But except for something technical like that, you're safe once you've sent in the registration and $.
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