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  1. DrMad
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    DrMad New Member

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    I am worried of being taken advantage of legally

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by DrMad, May 18, 2011.

    Hi,

    I am making a movie. It is a zombie movie. I came up with the idea all by myself. I created the characters, and the plot line, etc etc. I met someone who wanted to work on it with me.

    He told me to send him my script so he could collaborate on it with me thru email. So now were are going back and forth creating a final draft of it all.

    I came up with the original everything for this film. What he did was took what I had and added all of his own ideas to it.

    He had the nerve to say to me, "Can I have credit for screenplay?" and I looked at him like he was out of his mind and said no.

    I am worried that he will try and take the credit for my script!

    If I go now and copywrite my original script and ideas...will that save me from being ripped off in any way?

    I told him that we could do this as long as we work it out where credit is due to who deserves it. I have a feeling he wants to try and take credit for way more than he is entitled to.

    I don't want to back out because I don't want to offend him. I never needed any one else to help me write this script. I'm actually really mad that his ideas arn't exactly like what I had in mind, but I keep trying to go with the flow and say that it will all work out in the end. The real reason I wanted to have him join in on this movie script is so he could help pay 50 percent of the film stock costs.

    THis is a low budget movie that I am doing everything I can by myself. I pride myself on doing as much as I can by myself on it. Of course I'm hiring make up artists, actors, etc...but anything i can do in house, i will do myself.

    Please someone let me know what you can about this. I DO NOT want to get screwed over by some guy that tries to take credit for something thats not his.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    First, the word is copyright, not copywrite.

    Have you kept early drafts of your work? You should. It is your best weapon in any dispute over ownership of a piece of writing.

    You only need to register your copyright when and if you decide to take the other party to court. Copyright is yours as soon as you have a completed draft in a durable medium.

    Consult http://www.copyright.gov/ if you are a US citizen. If you are not a US citizen, find the copyright agency for your country. Most countries are signatory to the Berne convention, so the copyright laws are pretty uniform from one country to the next.

    One more thing. Never, EVER enter a collaborative project without a collaboration contract that clearly states the rights and responsibilities of each party, and how the benefits or losses are to be divided.
     
  3. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Bingo!
     
  4. TheSpiderJoe
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    TheSpiderJoe Senior Member

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    Even though it is your idea, if there is anything on the final version of your film using his ideas/influence then it must be credited as such or you have to replace it altogether.

    Sure, he could just be a friend helping you out but that doesn't mean you can take his ideas without giving him some credit for it. The only way you'll see legal ramifications is if you try to take him out of the entire process.

    Honestly, what's a little blurb at the end of the credits with his name on it going to do to ruin the integrity of the film?
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    of course he deserves to be included in the credits... but there are as many kinds of credits as there are ways of 'helping'...

    you should have had a collaboration agreement in place before you let him write a single word, or share a single idea... without one, you're up merde creek without a paddle, if you can't prove which parts are yours and which he contributed...

    what you really need to do at this point is consult a literary attorney... short of that, study the variety of credits at the link below and for heaven's sake, do up an agreement that you can both feel comfortable with... better late, than never...

    if your partner balks at that, then having an attorney handle it is your only recourse...

    http://wga.org/content/subpage_writersresources.aspx?id=167
    http://wga.org/uploadedFiles/writers_resources/contracts/collaboration.pdf

    if you need help understanding any of this, feel free to drop me a line...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
  6. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Why do you not want to give him credit if by your own admission he contributed his own ideas (which I assume ended up in the script)? Copyrighting the script isn't going to protect you in any way if you actually did use his contributions, since he is, in fact, a co-writer who deserves partial credit (partial credit for writing being the least you could do for him if you want him to finance 50% of the film). Working out who gets credit for what in terms of the script is kinda ridiculous too--what are you gonna do? Have little notes in there saying "I wrote this", "He wrote this", "This was my idea"?

    If you collaborated on the script, you're co-writers. It's pretty simple. Both your names go on, you share the glory, you move on. I'm sorry, but it sounds like you're in the wrong here, not your writing partner...
     
  7. DrMad
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    DrMad New Member

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    Hey everybody! NO, I must have not made it clear....he wanted ENTIRE credit for screenplay on this film when all he did was add to my script that I came up with all my self before I ever met him! He was like, you can take credit for the script I'll have entire credit for the screenplay. And I was like Oh heck no!

    In the last few days, something good happened. He didn't agree with a few of my ideas, and he wanted to hi jack my script, telling me what we should do here and there, and also saying he "wrote most of it". So I said, I'm backing out of this whole thing, and I'm ONLY taking my ideas and what I WROTE. He agreed to take what he wrote out of my script, and now I am continuing to work on my script from where it was BEFORE he ever came into the picture. Now, I just have to finish my work and copy write it asap, or whatever legal procedure I have to do to make it legit. I am using NOTHING but my original ideas for the film. Thanks everyone for your advise.
     
  8. DrMad
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    DrMad New Member

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    He had no problem backing out of the whole thing. No problems whatsoever.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    1.'script' and 'screenplay' are one and the same... in the credits, it's called the 'screenplay'...

    2. it's 'copyright' not 'copy write'

    3. it's automatically copyrighted as soon as you finish it... the only thing you need to do is register it with wga at the site i linked to above...

    to cover yourself legally, in case you should sell it and your friend claim any credit, keep all your original notes and a copy of all you wrote before he came along and after he bowed out...

    don't make the fatal mistake of thinking he won't, and do nothing... it's more common than not, for friendship to go out the window, when cash comes in the door!
     

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