This has been an exciting week! I was lucky to have Bob Seigel, a wonderful entertainment lawyer, come to my SVA class to discuss the business of being a writer.
Here are ten of his key points on copyrighting your script:
1. Work must be copyrighted at the US copyright office to be fully protected.
2. There are different types of forms for different types of work. For scripts, treatments and Bibles, use the PA form.
3. You can register and upload material online.
4. You can’t copyright a title.
5. Mailing a copy to yourself and not opening the package – does not count.
6. Registering work with the WGA is not sufficient if there’s a lawsuit.
7. Copyright when you complete the work, don’t wait for a sale. If revisions are necessary, it’s easy to amend the registration.
8. If you’re the author of the work, don’t check off the “for hire” box. “For hire” means that you are working for someone else – who owns the copyright.
9. If you’re part of a writing team, decide which one of you will be the correspondent.
10. Make sure that you get a receipt that the application is accepted.
A bonus point: Never put a copyright notice on the cover of your script, as it will mark you as an amateur.
Remember that your work is like a house – you don’t “own” it until you have “paper.”
Happy Columbus Day!
Here’s to your successful writing,
Professor Marilyn Horowitz