The best way to protect your work is to leave it at the bottom of the drawer. But if you are going to submit it for the appreciation of others, you need to take certain steps to protect yourself.
Boostyourfilm cannot protect your screenplay. It’s up to you to do this: protecting your scenario means proving that your article existed before you send it to Boostyourfilm, or anyone else.
This is not sufficient to prove plagiarism. This is extremely complicated.
To protect your work, there is a simple technique: send yourself the script in a registered letter. Be aware, this letter must never be opened. Keep it in a safe place.
In the digital age, you can protect your scenarios via the internet.
SABAM (Société d’Auteurs Belge) has launched a free online deposit service for a first deposit. The site is secure and you can register your masterpiece in just 30 seconds! Just fill out a form to describe your scenario, to add four attached files, to receive a certificate.
Cost: Free (first deposit)
Protection: five years (renewable for €20).
In France, the SACD has finally launched its “e-filing”. Once you have created an account, fill in a short form and attached your file – document word, pdf or archive containing several files.
Protection: five years renewable.
The United States has its own equivalent service for registering your script. The Writers Guild of America (there are two, east and west allow you to upload your script in minutes. This applies to overseas applications also.
Cost: $10 members, $25 for non-members
Protection: ten years
The United Kingdom
UK Copyright Law deems that an original piece of work is automatically under copyright once the creator has written, designed or drawn it in some physical form, however, in the event of a copyright dispute, proving exactly when copyright was established, and by whom, can be difficult. It is generally accepted that the best way to establish a verifiable date of creation is to register your work with a third party. Copyright Registration can prove invaluable in the event of copyright infringement, copyright theft or plagiarism.
In the UK, the writers’ union (WGGB), however, does not believe that registering a script gives you any significant protection from copyright infringements in this country.
However, if you wish to register your script The Script Vault offers such a service in the UK.
Caution: These methods protect you in your country and in most countries that have signed the Berne Convention. But there are some exceptions, especially the United States. To be protected, you must also deposit your work with the Copyright Office (www.copyright.gov).
In conclusion, it makes sense to protect your scenario! In five minutes you can register your work online. So do not take any chances and especially do not forget to put your registration number on the first page of your scenario.