Protect Your Video Series Idea

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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Truth Hurts: Website content might not have copyright protection

Recently, Popular recording artist and songwriter Lizzo came under fire for using a 2017 tweet by Mina Lioness in her #1 Billboard top 100 single “Truth Hurts.”  Lizzo conceded and gave writer credit to Mina Lioness in October (2019). Today, Mina Lioness is a songwriter with a record-breaking, chart-topping hit song.

And for now, all is well in the music world.

But with all this intellectual property consistently being promoted on social media websites, protecting valuable content might be an arduous but necessary task.

And before anyone thinks copyrighting artistic content applies only to music, think again.

Original content on your WordPress website or anywhere on the internet may not enjoy copyright protection, either.

Updated in March 2019,  Circular 66 Copyright Registration of Websites and Website Content says there are specific circumstances in which website content can get copyright registration.

“The Copyright Act does not explicitly recognize websites as a type of copyrightable subject matter.”

So what is a website owner to do to protect their original digital content?
In short,  Circular 66 indicates the content owner will have to register content the same way they would submit a manuscript for copyright registration.

“The deposit requirements for websites and website content are generally the same as for any other work. If the work is unpublished or if it has been published solely online, you must submit a complete copy of the work. For example, if you want to register an entire website, you must submit all of the pages as they actually appear on the site, regardless of volume. If you want to register an individual work that appears on the website, the deposit must depict the work in the context in which it appears on the website or web page. ”

It took two years before Mina Lioness received credit for her iconic tweet on Twitter.  And that’s because she had so many witnesses who retweeted or liked her original content.   Most website owners don’t have that reach.  In the absence of that level of support, copyright registration is the next best thing.  Especially since a certificate of registration is required to bring a case of infringement. https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/18pdf/17-571_e29f.pdf

Check all the requirements on Copyright.gov –
https://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-digital.html
https://www.copyright.gov/registration/other-digital-content/index.html