Keeping your ideas safe: US Copyright Office vs WGA
I’m sure you have wondered before if you should register your script with the US Copyright Office or the WGA. Or maybe you have only considered registering it with the WGA like I did for a long time until my lawyer set me straight when I had file a complaint against a former employer.
The answer is that a US Copyright Registration is the best way to protect your creative work and this does not only pertain to screenplays, but any creative work. I agree with many others that the WGA should shut down its registration service since as my lawyer explained to me, the registration won’t hold up in court.
Some will tell you that if you know and trust the people you are sharing your work with that you can skip registering it with either one, but I would advice you to register your work. Friendships, good work relationship can sour and then you will regret no having done it.
The registration for a US Copyright Registration costs only $35 - $55 per submission depending on if it is a “work for hire” or not. You will be able to submit multiple documents, which can include your full work-in-progress, which is not possible with the WGA.
Here are some reasons why US copyright registration is important:
- Copyright registration protects your work to the fullest extent of the law, worldwide.
- Distributors, producers, financiers and studios often require proof of copyright registration before your project will be made and/or sold.
- It provides evidence of proper chain-of-title.
- Public record of ownership for your work
- Ability to sue in federal court for infringement
- You are eligible to be awarded attorney’s fees in an infringement suit.
- Ability to pass to heirs in a will, living trust or through intestacy
Knowing that your work is protected will make you sleep better at night. Don’t forget to do it!