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The Pocket Lawyer for Filmmakers, 2nd Edition by Thomas A. Crowell

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7

IDEA RIGHTS: PROTECTING YOUR PITCHES AND AVOIDING IDEA “THEFT”

 

 

 

Without a doubt, a copyright is the best way to protect a screenplay from being stolen. However, a filmmaker may have only an idea for a film or television program—a concept that has yet to be turned into a screenplay—and copyright law does not protect ideas. In fact, even though they are valuable to the filmmaker, ideas can be very hard to protect legally: The law starts with the presumption that ideas are free for anyone to use.

Generally, for a filmmaker to protect an idea when he is pitching it to a production company or movie studio, the idea must be novel (see below) and the filmmaker needs to enter into a contract with the party to whom he is pitching the idea. In essence, ...

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