Posts tagged ‘idea theft’

June 20, 2011

Why You Don’t Have to Worry About Protecting Your Script

This article gives some helpful information on protecting your work, what that means, and what that doesn’t mean. It also makes it clear why you really shouldn’t worry about your ideas being stolen:

You can not copyright or protect– in any way– your ideas.

Ideas are not copyright-able.  Only the execution of an idea is copyright-able.

So… let’s say you have an idea for a TV show about a boy who befriends a lost chupacabra.  You do NOT own that idea.  A TV company, a fellow writer, or your best friend could all write their own movies about boys befriending lost chupacabras… and you would (probably) have NO LEGITIMATE CLAIM they stole your idea.

Now, if you’d already written a script or treatment… and you could prove that they stole your plot, characters, lines of dialogue… you might have a case.  But the idea itself—”boy befriends lost chupacabra”—is not yours.  Even if you discussed it with people… you DO NOT OWN THE IDEA.  You own only your execution.

Now… can you protect your “execution,” your script or treatment?  Possibly.

But here’s another thing to understand…

Obtaining a copyright, or a WGA registration, does NOT guarantee protection of intellectual property.

A copyright or WGA registration simply provides a piece of EVIDENCE as to when and where you first held ownership of your material.

So if you registered or copyrighted your script on June 4, 2011, it does not mean that as of June 4, 2011, your script is protected.  It means you have one piece of evidence saying that on June 4, 2011, this particular piece of intellectual property was in your possession.

…And that piece of evidence may or may not be enough to convince a court of law you yourself created this particular intellectual property.

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