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Old 12-28-2007, 04:44 PM   #1
rodneymerten
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WL Screenplay Agency

Any one have experience with them. I just sent them a script for review, but now I am worried because I didn't really check them out. Is there a part of this forum that rates script agencies?
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Old Today   #1A
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Old 12-28-2007, 05:28 PM   #2
tameka54
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Did you?


Hey Rodney,

Did you cover your own bases? Did you register your screenplay with WGA or the U.S. Copyright office? If not, have no fear just seal a copy of your script in an unopened envelope and take it the the U.S. Post Office in your area and have them stamp it, its pretty much reliable. Is this what you were worried about?

yours truly,

Triple Threat
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Old 12-28-2007, 06:09 PM   #3
spinner
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Hi, Triple Threat

You want to be careful of doing a "poor man's copyright". If anyone wants to pursue the "copyright", it might not stand up. This is one of the things that I learned from this site

Welcome to the board...


-- spinner
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Old 12-28-2007, 07:25 PM   #4
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It's a...

SCAM.

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/...ad.php?t=20359

filmy
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Old 12-28-2007, 07:28 PM   #5
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Thanks, Filmy!

I knew someone would remember the thread about this....


-- spinner
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Old 12-28-2007, 07:35 PM   #6
knightly
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remember that if a company likes your script (and it's registered to protect your work), they'll pay you for it...not the other way around.

These people prey on our desperation.
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Old 12-28-2007, 09:02 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by knightly View Post
These people prey on our desperation.
...yeah, they suck.

Make your own movie...

-- spinner
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Old 12-28-2007, 09:09 PM   #8
tameka54
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Thumbs Up Good looking out!


Hey Spinner,


Good lookin out!

Yours truly,

Triple Threat
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Old 12-28-2007, 09:48 PM   #9
directorik
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tameka54 View Post
If not, have no fear just seal a copy of your script in an unopened envelope and take it the the U.S. Post Office in your area and have them stamp it, its pretty much reliable.
This is a myth that continues to spread because good people with
good intentions don't do the research.

Called "the poorman's copyright" it can easily be faked and won't
hold up in court.

According to the official copyright website (copyright.gov):
“The practice of sending a copy of your own work to yourself is
sometimes called a poor man’s copyright. There is no provision in
the copyright law regarding any such type of protection, and it is
not a substitute for registration.”


About five years ago I got into a discussion with someone who swore
they heard of a case where this method held up in court. It prompted
me to do a lot of research.

I then started shooting a documentary. I interviewed sixteen lawyers
who specialize in copyright infringement in New York, Los Angeles, Austin
and Chicago. I spoke to five judges and fourteen established writers.

In five years of research I have never found a single case, nor heard
officially of a single case where this method has held up in court. I
managed to tracked down six people (writers, photographers and composers)
who had tried and failed in court.

Type "poorman's copyright" into Google and you'll find several hundred
articles written about this. Use it if you must, but use it knowing the facts.

http://www.legalzoom.com/articles/ar...icle13787.html

Try this yourself:

Take a blank envelope and write your own address on it. DO NOT SEAL THE
ENVELOPE. Mail the envelope to yourself. In a December 2010, when a new
big hit movie comes out, pick up a copy of the script, scan it into your screenwriting
software, change some stuff around, print it and put it into the envelope with the
January 2008 date and THEN seal it.

You now have an envelope posted in January 2008 with your work version of the
script that is AMAZINGLY similar to the version in the theaters. Any well paid
copyright lawyer can poke holes in the “poorman’s copyright”.
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Old 12-28-2007, 10:11 PM   #10
rodneymerten
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WL

Thanks for the input. I followed the thread. What a scam. I had registered my script with WGA, at least. Sherry Fine had made me feel so good. I even bragged to two buddies at lunch today that a NY agent was looking at my script.
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Old 12-29-2007, 07:10 AM   #11
tameka54
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Thumbs Up Hey Directorik


Hey Directorik,

I want to thank you for clearing up my ignorant mind to the "poor man's copyright". I understand fully now the true meaning of 'knowledge is power'. It does make a lot of sense now that you have explained it the way that you have.

thanks always,

Triple Threat
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Old 12-29-2007, 11:54 AM   #12
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Just a small aside to add to rik's reply...

You bust your ass to write a script. If you're anything like me, this could take YEARS. Why would you entrust something like a poor man's copyright to protect your hard work?

Owning your copyright can give you much more negotiating power when it comes to selling your script. You may sell the script but retain copyrights on characters, made up products in your script, etc.

Owning the copyright on all these other story elements is like money in the bank. You wouldn't send $100K in cash to yourself in an envelope would you?

And for those of you that would? You need not reply. LOL.

filmy
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Old 12-29-2007, 12:48 PM   #13
tameka54
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Thumbs Up Thanks again Filmy


Hey Filmy,

It's me again, wanting to say THANK YOU AGAIN! You are soooo tha bomb! I didn't realize that copyright held THAT much power! You are absolutely correct about the whole 'poor man's copyright' because I for one would not send myself cash in the mail! Once again, you have proven why you are my idol! Ha!

Have a wonderful holiday,

Triple Threat
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Old 01-07-2008, 04:57 PM   #14
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A Little Clarification

I had to jump in here on this "poor man's copyright" issue.

It is true that there is no provision for this method of copyright protection in the U.S. Code.

However, what every post on this topic seems to miss is that under the current U.S. copyright law (which would apply to anything currently written), copyright exists automatically the "moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device." In other words, registration is not required to own a copyright.
According to the U.S. Copyright Office's FAQ:

Do I have to register with your office to be protected?

No. In general, registration is voluntary. Copyright exists from the moment the work is created. You will have to register, however, if you wish to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. work.
That is not entirely accurate. If you wish to bring a federal lawsuit for copyright infringement, your work must be registered.

Nonetheless, the fact remains - and it is important to remember - that copyright is automatic when your writing is completed and fixed in a tangible form. That's it. Period. Done.

If that is the case, then what is the purpose of copyright registration? Well, first, as mentioned in the U.S. Copyright Office's FAQ, you cannot bring a federal copyright infringement lawsuit until your work is registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. That's a pretty big benefit.

The second thing is that it establishes a date on which we are certain that the work was completed. Since a copyright application requires the author to submit at least one complete copy of the work, we know that at least as early as the date of filing, the work was complete and the copyright was automatically created.

Thus, since anyone considering the "poor man's copyright" is presumably looking to save money (copyright registration is only $45.00), I doubt that you're going to be in a financial position to launch a federal copyright infringement suit anyway.

I'm am certain that there are struggling writers for whom the $45 is a hardship. Since the copyright is created automatically, the "poor man's copyright" is not creating copyright rights. What it is doing, however, is establishing a presumption (providing some form of evidence) that the work was in existence and completed at least as early as the date indicated on the USPS's postmark. It serves, to some degree, the same purpose as copyright registration - to establish a certain fixed date on which we know the work was complete.

Sure, it's possible that someone could "[t]ake a blank envelope and write your own address on it. DO NOT SEAL THE ENVELOPE. Mail the envelope to yourself. In a December 2010, when a new big hit movie comes out, pick up a copy of the script, scan it into your screenwriting software, change some stuff around, print it and put it into the envelope with the January 2008 date and THEN seal it."

No evidence is ever flawless. However, if someone tried to proceed in the manner described above, presumably there would be other evidence that would reveal that scam. You could also seal the envelope's opening with paper tape over which the postmark could be stamped.

I'm not saying you shouldn't try to register your work with the U.S. Copyright Office. Not at all. If fact, if you can, I would recommend it. However, if you don't have the $45 to spare or you need some kind of evidence of authorship really quickly (to get a copyright registration would take several months), using the "poor man's copyright" can provide some evidence of ownership or some evidence of the date on which something was created.

Again, it's not perfect, but in the right situation, it's worth the $5.00 postage. Remember: copyright is created automatically and a copyright registration and a postmark is only evidence showing a date on which we know the work was completed.
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Old 01-07-2008, 09:54 PM   #15
directorik
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmliii View Post
Nonetheless, the fact remains - and it is important to remember - that copyright is automatic when your writing is completed and fixed in a tangible form. That's it. Period. Done.
Sorry gmliii, you're dead wrong on this.

If you create a work and it is stolen and you take the thief to
court the judge isn't going just accept your word. You say you
created it on July 6 2005 and the thief says he created it July 6
2004. The copyright exists from the moment of creation - but who
created it first?
Quote:
Thus, since anyone considering the "poor man's copyright" is presumably looking to save money (copyright registration is only $45.00), I doubt that you're going to be in a financial position to launch a federal copyright infringement suit anyway.
I agree. However if the script is stolen and passed off as original
by someone else, the "poor man's copyright" won't show proof of
ownership. You don't register the copyright so you can launch a
federal copyright infringement lawsuit, you register it to
protect yourself. And the poor man method isn't the way to
protect yourself.
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