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ACCESS.  It is the Number 1 ingredient to winning your case against someone who steals your screenplay.  YOU HAVE TO SHOW ACCESS.  If you PUBLISH IT ON TV, than 6 months after it airs, if someone who lives in the area has or releases a movie you believe is based on Your Screenplay you have the right to SUE THEM.  You can Prove ACCESS as long as they have access to the station. 

Additionally, the MSRG suggests that when you send people a copy of the tape, please send it overnight with signature necessary for receipt.  Airborne second day service was our choice and it cost half of what other services charge.  The MSRG also suggests sending all your screenplays this way. 

If you sign one of their Release Forms you have little to no way to make a claim or get any money from the claim.  If you get your Screenplay Read on tape with us, you file the tape at the U.S. Copyright Office and then send the tape.  And you might not have to sign their Release Form since it's just a tape and since it's already been published by having it aired on TV. 

What does the Copyright protect? 

Only the words in the exact order in which they were written for the entirety of the literary piece.   It does not protect the idea and is very hard to enforce unless they steal the words exactly as written and you can prove they had ACCESS.

What does the Writers' Guild Registration protect?

It's simply used as evidence that as of the day it was registered, YOU had the idea and wrote it down in this format.  If someone else had the idea after you and you do not prove ACCESS, you have no case.  They might have been influenced by the same external and internal processes that you were influenced and may have come up with the idea on their own since ultimately all Writers are just channeling information that is out there in the Universe. 

This is why every case that has been brought in the Film Business of someone stealing a Writer's work has been circumstantial.

Making a tape with the MSRG is a new form of Protection for your Screenplay.  By videotaping the reading and especially if it's aired, you have the Greatest Protection with the easiest way to prove ACCESS.

 

 

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Copyright 2001 The Malibu Screenplay Reading Group (MSRG)
Last modified: June 10, 2002