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  1. kimCady
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    kimCady New Member

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    Protection of your work

    Discussion in 'Support & Feedback' started by kimCady, Oct 15, 2011.

    Hi, I'm new to this forum but I'm looking forward to using it often. This might be a silly question, but I'd like to be able to ask people to review my work and I'd like to review the work of others. But if you don't have something legally copyrighted, how do you protect it? What's stopping someone from just stealing your stuff and calling it their own? I'm not saying I've written anything that great. Yet.:redface:

    Should I just be more trusting?

    Thanks!

    Kim
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    all you write is legally copyrighted as soon as you've written it... "copyright subsists from the time the work is created in fixed form"... for the nitty-gritty, go here: www.copyright.gov

    however, being protected by copyright still won't keep anyone from stealing your work any more than laws against murder will keep people from killing each other... if you want to be a writer, you should acquaint yourself with the business end of the writer's art...

    if you're going to worry about anything you write being stolen, then you probably should think twice about wanting to be a writer...
     
  3. AmsterdamAssassin
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    AmsterdamAssassin Contributing Member

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    I wonder about something else -- from what I understand, publishing houses are pretty adamant about retaining First Publishing Rights and consider posting of works on the internet as publication, so posting a short story for critique on a subforum without a password [where it can be read by pretty much anyone] you lose those 'important' First Publishing Rights.

    How can I protect myself against that? I have posted the first ten chapters of my book [one-fifth of the total chapters] on my website, but how much material is crucial for losing those First Publishing Rights? Does anyone know?
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you should never post more than brief excerpts of any work you hope to have published some day... in re books, no more than a chapter or two at most...

    posting a complete story or article can seriously hamper its chances of being sold for publication since why would a publisher pay you for something they expect people to pay to read, when it can be read for free online?... even if you delete it, it could have been picked up by a google crawl before then and will exist 'out there' virtually forever [or at least as long as the internet 'lives']...
     
  5. kimCady
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    kimCady New Member

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    Well, I was thinking about it in regards to posting a treatment for a screenplay. That's what I'd like to do. I guess the rules vary depending on what you're posting. With a screenplay, the final product isn't the written word that can be published online or in print but something visual on the screen.

    I'm still planning to post the treatment because I'd like to get feedback on my work from fellow
     
  6. kimCady
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    kimCady New Member

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    Well, I was thinking about it in regards to posting a treatment for a screenplay. That's what I'd like to do. I guess the rules vary depending on what you're posting. With a screenplay, the final product isn't the written word that can be published online or in print but something visual on the screen.

    I'm still planning to post the treatment because I'd like to get feedback on my work from fellow writers.

    Sorry to post twice!
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    a 'treatment' is a scene by scene narrative version of the script and is usually only written if one is requested by a producer who's shown interest in it after seeing your query, or having been hooked by your agent in wanting to see more, though not yet ready to request the actual script... are you sure that's what you mean?... or did you mean just a 'synopsis'?
     
  8. Blue Night
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    Blue Night Active Member

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    I submitted all my writings to the U.S Copyright office before posting anything. You do have a valid question.
    Yes. What if someone steals your idea? Can it happen? Of course. I will never feel protected by 'once it is in tangible form, it is copyrighted'. That's way too easy. Yes, while it is true, someone else can lay claim. It comes down to proof.
    Sure, your writing may not be the best. But it can be a masterpiece also.
    Who knows the value to a thief?
    I pull out my credit card and pay $35 for each of my writings. And one of my writings is over 300 pages. Others are peoms or short stories. It doesn't matter. No one, and I mean no one is going to take my work. Now, that's protection.
    Don't forget about infringement. It's not plagiarism. It's a building of a story from your work. It doesn't have to be word for word.
    Just too similar for comfort.
    I will not have that either.
    So, if you want a copyright, throw it out there. If you want protection, register your work.
    And yes, read up on all this with the copyright office.
    I used to be discouraged by the difference between an idea (unregistered-but still valid) and a work. I took my sloppily written story, put 'end part one' at the end and I got a registered copyright.
    Now that's sleeping better at night.
    Not to mention, I post whatever I want for others to critique. No worries.
     
  9. Blue Night
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    Blue Night Active Member

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    I hope this doesn't double post.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    sorry, but you don't seem to understand what simply registering your existing copyright with the LOC means... it does NOT protect your work from plagiarism any more than the automatic copyright does... all that $35 per reg'n does is this:


    all it does is allow you to sue the person/s who stole your work... it does nothing to stop anyone from doing so...

    so you're spending a lot of money that you could better spend on trying to get those works published, since the publisher will register the copyright and save you that fee, while paying you for your writings...
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    sorry, but you don't seem to understand what simply registering your existing copyright with the LOC means... it does NOT protect your work from plagiarism any more than the automatic copyright does... all that $35 per reg'n does is this:


    all it does is allow you to sue the person/s who stole your work... it does nothing to stop anyone from doing so...

    so you're spending a lot of money that you could better spend on trying to get those works published, since the publisher will register the copyright and save you that fee, while paying you for your writings...
     
  12. Blue Night
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    Blue Night Active Member

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    mammamaia. Let me copy and paste from your quote.
    (You will have to register, however, if you wish to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. work.)
    Yes, I touched on that.
    (Registered works may be eligible for statutory damages and attorney's fees in successful litigation.)
    That's why I love it.
    I'm sorry. Did you say I didn't seem to understand?
     
  13. kimCady
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    kimCady New Member

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    No, I mean a treatment. The terms treatment and synopsis are actually sometimes used interchangeably in the industry. You're right in that they can be requested by a producer but they can be very beneficial to the writer if written before beginning the screenplay. That way, the writer can use the treatment as a guide for the actual screenplay. It can be several pages long and is usually in the form of a short story. A synopsis is actually more of a scene breakdown. A synopsis lacks the intensity that a treatment should embody. The treatment is used to sell your screenplay. The synopsis is intended to describe it.
     
  14. kimCady
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    kimCady New Member

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    Thank you Blue Night. That's actually very helpful. It sounds worth the $35 for the piece of mind.
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    kim...
    they're not used interchangeably by the pros i know in the biz... the standard 'synopsis' that an agent/producer might request is a single page, single-spaced, consisting of a paragraph for each of the 3 acts [beginning, middle, end], while a treatment is the scene-by-scene narrative version of the script and will be at least several pages long...

    since the treatment is describing all that takes place in a screenplay, i don't see how anyone could write one before having written the script... i think that what you seem to be calling one may be actually an 'outline'...

    i've been mentoring aspiring screenwriters for decades, have friends in the writing and representation ends of the industry and i've never come across any pros who'd confuse a treatment with a synopsis, or use the terms interchangeably...

    in re registering your copyright, most screenwriters who do that register their scripts with wga, not loc...
     

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