Monday, October 20, 2008

The Writing Week part 42 - To Copyright or Register?

This week was another link in the recent chain of re-write and marketing/networking weeks. I tested the waters of the NYC Screenwriters meeting on Saturday, and was able to hand out some of our brand new business cards there. It's a pretty great workshop for anyone looking to get into screenwriting and learn some of the basics, as well as get to meet other people who are looking to crack that first script or finish one of the seven they have open. Any writers out there, especially first time screenwriters could do well to pop in to the next meeting (November 1st, I believe.)

One of the things brought up at the meeting was the debate between WGA Script Registration and obtaining a U.S. Copyright on your material. In the past, I've been told that the WGA or WGAE registration is enough to safeguard a writer, at least as much as should be legally necessary. However, I've recently heard arguments indicating the opposite - that a WGA/E registration might not stand up in court, and could fail to protect against even some of the more blatant idea thefts. (We all know that ideas floating around the industry are a dime a dozen, and my "unique" idea might be far from that. Hmm... that sounds like a familiar thought.) But is that true? Should a writer do BOTH the U.S. Copyright and a WGA/E script registration?

I recently brushed up my comic book style spec, in preparation for NYU's Screenplay Bank - an annual listing of loglines that get sent out to about 200 industry contacts the university has compiled. I'm happy to report I already has a request for my script based off the logline, though, so as not to jinx myself (knock on wood), I won't go into any details beyond that. I know that having a script read by someone actively seeking new projects is a big step, and at this point, one step at a time is all I plan to take. But I digress - the comic book spec is full of characters I want to own. I created them. I've developed them for many years. Like Athena did to Zeus, they've leaped form my head, and I want to own them.

Clearly, a WGA registration is not enough to ensure full rights to a character. So what does a writer do? Is it possible in this day and age to actually own the full rights to characters you've created, especially if they're not originally presented in a comic book? As I understand it, a U.S. Copyright will provide more character protection than a script registration does, but is it enough? I love screenwriting and plan to pursue it as long as I can. Sometimes, though, these and other legal considerations are obvious reminders of how much of a business what we're embarking upon is. The love of writing is one thing (and hopefully the most important thing), but the business side is very much a presence, too.

Free SLEEP DEALER screening in NYC - Writer/Director Alex Rivera in attendance

This film looks real cool - the writer won the Sloan screenwriting award for this script and had a great reception at Sundance this year. Hooray for new science fiction!

Sleep Dealer, dir. by Alex Rivera, written by Alex Rivera & David Riker

Set in a near-future, militarized world marked by closed borders, virtual labor and a global digital network that joins minds and experiences, three strangers risk their lives to connect with each other and break the barriers of technology.

The film is sponsored by the Museum of the Moving Image and will be shown at Pratt at 8 PM on October 24th. Writer/director Alex Rivera will be present for a post-film discussion.

It's free, everyone! RSVP by calling 718.777.6810.

Writing Excursion

If you're reading this, I'm sitting on a beach in Puerto Rico, taking a long-needed vacation. I have all of the day today while my compadre is at work to sneak in a miniature writing retreat. I've got an old draft to read over and an outline to iron some kinks out of... but as long as I'm not being hit too hard by Hurricane Omar, I'll be doing it on this beautiful beach while sipping some local rum. Nyah nyah nyah!

Back to the blogging game (and reality) tomorrow.