Protect Your Video Series Idea

reading room library of congress

So you want to be the next award-winning video producer? Well, before you pick up a camera, get down to the basics. #novicelevel

If you have an excellent idea for a video series and you produce a great show – there’s still a chance someone might register a copyright for it. If the Register of Copyright approves, the successful registrant will own the intellectual property and the right to license the work to film studios, distributors, and merchandisers. Don’t let this happen to you. You created the work; now protect it!

  1. Put together your production team of trusted professionals. (Producer, writers, etc.) 
  2. Write the show’s treatment* and register it. The website provides insight into the importance of registering your show’s treatment.  **
  3. Prepare and produce a pilot episode -about 18 minutes. Without a product, you only have an idea. You can’t copyright an idea -and because of possible litigation, no reputable agent or investor will give you a meeting.
  4. Before releasing the pilot episode to the public, register with the library of congress.***  Once the copyright office receives the complete registration; you can begin to release the episode publicly. Note: “the Copyright Office must approve or refuse your application before you can file a lawsuit for copyright infringement, except in cases involving non-U.S. work.”  ****
  5. Prepare and launch your marketing and fundraising campaign. Promote, provide access to the pilot episode/series (decide on your platform), and continue producing the series as funds allow. 
  6. Grow your audience. The more eyes on your project, the better your bargaining power. – Audiences come for the content.  Investors/advertisers/film studios come for your audience. (Customer base) 
  7. Continue fundraising and pitching to stakeholders (agents, production companies, grantmakers, investors, etc. 

Note: Remember why you started this project. The Journey may be long, challenging, and frustrating so remember what you want to accomplish. It will help you hurdle the obstacles and keep you focused on achieving your goal. 

*Writing Treatments that Sell” helped me create a draft treatment in 2005 for a show I called “Sweeps” *

**There’s also a list of WGA-approved agents and signatories on the WGAW (Writers Guild of America West) registry page.  https://www.wgawregistry.org/

Once you’ve completed your product and decide to look for an agent, check out agents with a lot of experience with your genre and prospective audience.

*** Register Motion Pictures /Audiovisual Works  https://www.copyright.gov/registration/motion-pictures/

**** Copyright Basics Circular 1 https://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf

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