Film, TV, Video, Radio, Interactive Media Writers: Protect Your Work

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Online WGA Registration is a Quick, Cheap, and Easy Way to Document the Date of Authorship of Your Work.

The WGA accepts registration from its members and non-members of scripts, treatments, synopses, outlines, and written ideas intended for radio, television and film, video cassettes/discs, or interactive media, as well as stageplays, novels and other books, short stories, poems, commercials, lyrics, drawings, music and other media work. Go to https://www.wgawregistry.org/webrss/dataentry.asp. Enter your personal information and your payment information. Upload the file you wish to register. Only one file for each online registration request will be accepted, and the file size limit is 10 MB; zip files are prohibited. Preferred file formats are ASCII, XML, PDF (Adobe Acrobat), Word, Final Draft , and Movie Magic Screenwriter 2000; however, all file formats are acceptable, including other screenplay software and standard computer file formats, as well as .tiff, and .jpg files. Once you get your WGA registration number, affix that number on all copies of your work.

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Add a Copyright Notice to Your Work - Apply for Copyright Registration for Your Work

You have a "common law" copyright in your work as soon as it's created. Besides putting your WGA registration number on all copies of your work, another easy way to assert your rights is to affix a copyright notice on all copies of your work. A proper notice consist of 1) the symbol (C) (the letter C in a circle), or the word "Copyright," or the abbreviation "Copr."; 2) the year of first publication of the work; and 3) the name of the owner of copyright in the work, or an recognizable abbreviation of the name. An example would be (C) 2009 Jane Doe. Taking copyright protection a step further, your next step is to apply for copyright registration with the U.S. Copyright Office. This registration provides many benefits, including a public record of your copyright , and the ability to sue for infringement. See my Legal Guide "COPYRIGHT REGISTRATION - 3 METHODS" for help in the registration process.

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A Collaboration Agreement Will Minimize the Chances of a Dispute Between You and Your Co-Writer(s)

When two (or more) writers write a work together, they're collaborating, and for everyone's protection, a written Collaboration Agreement delineates the writers' rights. Most importantly, the agreement should specify the percentages of ownership, which are sometimes, but not always, equal shares. As importantly, it should provide that no writer may sell or license the work without the consent of the other(s), and how the proceeds of any transaction should be divided. Other terms commonly found in Collaboration Agreements are the appointment of one or more sales agents, withdrawal from or termination of collaboration, and enforcement provisions.

Additional Resources

Writers Guild of America West Registry

U.S. Copyright Office

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