Monthly Archives: February 2010

Asked & Answered: Should writer’s groups allow development execs as members?

Q:  I belong to a script development group in Hollywood.  The group recently let a development executive in as a member and are talking about letting in other producers and development executives.  I think this is a bad idea because even though they sign a non-disclosure agreement,  there is no paper trail for individual projects and the script ideas can not be protected.  The group argues it's a way to get their work seen and the producers/execs can give an industry perspective.  I think it is a naive and desperate grab at selling a script and if the members work was good enough to get representation, they woud not have to do this.  I am now considering resigning.  Am I being paranoid and is this a good idea?

A:  I'm of two minds about this issue.  I think you're right to consider resigning, if you're concerned that you can't trust the other members of your group… regardless who they may be.  There's nothing fundamentally riskier about having a development executive in your group, than having other writers seeing, hearing-about, and evaluating your work.  The fact is, other writers are just as capable of ‘borrowing' material from your work, and in-fact, may be more likely to do so.

I see the value, however, in having producers and execs involved in the group.  It IS a good idea that the members of such a group sign on to a code-of-conduct and, preferably,  a non-disclosure/non-circumvention agreement that has some legal teeth.   Maybe the thing to do is to keep meticulous records (establish the missing paper trail) so everybody knows who's present for presentations, discussions, etc., and what material is discussed.  This is really just a good idea anyway.

The bottom line, however, is this:  At some point, you've got to let other people read your material, or it will never be optioned, purchased, produced and distributed.  So, again I repeat what's becoming a mantra…. Only do business with reputable people whom you can trust.

This is intended as general information only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. It is not a substitute for a private, independent consultation with an attorney selected to advise you after a full investigation of the facts and law relevant to your matter. We will not be responsible for readers’ detrimental reliance upon the information appearing in this feature.

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Asked & Answered: Co-authors, who owns what?

Q:  I have written a multi-award-winning screenplay and feel, after many rewrites, it’s getting close to being pretty good. My question is about ownership: The screenplay was based on my novel, partly coauthored by a friend, who did about 10% of the work and storyline creation.  How would my friend be compensated, and would I… Continue Reading

Recommended Reading: What Dealmakers can learn from Sandra Bullock

Entertainment Lawyer Dina Appleton’s guest post today in THR, Esq. Blog is an excellent discussion of how win-win deals can still be made for high-level talent, in today’s risk-averse climate. Ms. Appleton’s premise is that folks who’ve previously gotten rich front- and back-end deals may have to give ground on some points, but if willing… Continue Reading

3 Reasons why copyright registration is important for all kinds of documents

Copyright registration is increasingly important for all types of businesses and all types of documents. it’s not just about media content. Companies and individuals should consider registering their copyrights in all kinds of documents they may consider valuable. Sales presentations and info sheets can be easily lifted by competitors, and without a registered copyright, the… Continue Reading

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