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June 15, 2011
Only Amateurs Care About Copyright Registration (in Hollywood)
Television writer Chad Gervich
has some pretty strong opinions on people who are concerned about protecting their ideas in the world of television script-writing. In a piece for Scriptmag online earlier this month he responds to readers' questions about the need for registering their works
with the Copyright Office or the Writer's Guild (WGA).
He reminds would-be screenwriters that ideas can't be protected in the first place, only tangible forms in which the idea is fixed. In addition, he notes that:
[T]here is no bigger sign of an amateur than someone who’s worried about their stuff being stolen
In Hollywood, as elsewhere, creativity is a collaborative process. Ideas have been done a hundred times before and been seen by the producers at least ten times before. Real people who really work in this industry share, critique, feed off each other's stuff, pay homage, make suggestions, and in general participate in a free flow of ideas that feed the creative process.
Gervich's advice to aspiring screenwriters is much the same advice as is given to authors in other fields: make your stuff unique. Make your voice stand out. Make a contribution that is wholly yours and that cannot be replaced. The idea is not unique - the writer is. Separating the two, and focusing on protecting and nurturing the latter is the whole point.
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