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In her work, The Writer Got Screwed (but didn't have to), Brooke A. Wharton debunks a few myths surrounding copyright. You might be well served to pick up a copy of the book for the copyright related content alone. One thing she explains is that a writer has copyright in a work the instant an idea is put on paper (or saved in a computer file). That said, she still advises registration, so you may sue for compensation, if necessary.
The Writers Guild of America, west, Inc. (WGAw), has offered writers protection through its Intellectual Property Registry since 1927. Today, the process of registering is more efficient than in the past, thanks to the addition of online registration. Each year, thousands of screenwriters register new works with the WGAw, to establish completion dates of intellectual property. WGAw registration runs five years. Be sure to see the WGAw's website for more information.
As an alternative to WGAw registration, ProtectRite opened operations in 1994. The service, through ProtectRite.com, allows you to register your work online in a matter of minutes. When you finish your transaction, you may print out a Certificate of Registration, which includes among its details, your ProtectRite registration number and the registration's expiration date (which is a full ten years from the date of registration–twice as long as WGAw registration).
Part of the Library of Congress, the United States Copyright Office offers the writer the “legal formality” (as the department's website says) of copyright registration. As Brooke A. Wharton advises, in The Writer Got Screwed (but didn't have to), without this registration, you cannot sue for copyright infringement.
The Copyright Office's website can answer your copyright registration questions.
Brooke A. Wharton, in The Writer Got Screwed (but didn't have to), recommends the following on your title page, to provide those who receive your manuscript with copyright notice:
1. the symbol, ©, the word “Copyright”, or its abbreviation, “Copr.”,
2. the year of first publication (the year you first wrote the story), and,
3. your name.
Example: Copyright John Hubcap, 2003.
Wharton also advises you follow that with “All rights reserved.”
|Sheri Ann Richerson|