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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Q. Should I copyright my spec with the US Library of Congress, or register it with the WGA?
There is no reason to register or copyright a spec episode. You don't own the underlying rights. No one would steal your spec 30 ROCK from you because they can't sell it.

They could, I suppose, pretend they wrote it, but I've never heard of something like that happening.

It wouldn't hurt to copyright your spec pilot, but bear in mind that there are not so many legit places to send a spec pilot, and your agent is likely going to send your spec to most of them. So if someone stole your spec pilot, they would likely be sending it to the same exact people, who will then say, "WTF are you sending me someone else's script for?"

If you don't have an agent, then you're probably sending your spec to agents in order to get an agent. Agents don't steal ideas, they represent writers with ideas.

And you can't really send a spec pilot to production companies without an agent. It's possible, though very difficult, to break into features without an agent. But I am not sure it is at all plausible to break into TV without an agent.

So bottom line, copyright your script with the Library of Congress if it makes you feel better. You can even do it online, I believe. But for tv scripts, it's probably not necessary.

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Copyrighting a spec pilot would protect your rights to all possible derivative works, like screenplays and novels if you decide to go another direction.

If someone steals your spec pilot and makes it into a novel, and you didn't register, you're going to have a messy fight on your hands proving who came up with it first.

What did I say it was in another comment a few days ago? Like $20 for an electronic filing?

It's pennies to protect your career.

By Blogger Paul William Tenny, at 8:42 PM  

Proof of WGA registration is also required for some programs/competitions. I know that the ABC/Disney Fellowship requires your spec script be registered.

By Blogger R.A. Porter, at 10:02 AM  

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