Screenwriters Legal Guide

 

  1. Read a writers contract.
  2.  A writer is not supposed to work for different people at once.
  3. Commisioned work is work “made for hire” meaning if you write it, it belongs to the person hiring you.
  4. A director may choose to go back to a writer because the director has burned out
    1. Two kinds of contacts : either Employment “made for hire” OR Literary Acquisition/Option Agreement
    2. “Coverage” in Hollywood terms is a short summary of either box , pass,/read,/consider.
    3.  An option price is very low 10-25k, an option price is just an amount when pre-production starts, purchase price is near the end of production. independent producing will net you a option ,much less 2.5 – 5k, guard yourself against option price when it comes to independent and try to make it higher.
    4. Guard yourself against “ setup bonus” which they will get anyway, ask for 10,000 or something legitamit when studio is set up otherwise you won’t get anything and they will
    5. The first option payment to you is subtracted from the purchase price, after that, the price is not applicable towards further options.
    6.  Keep in mind, the longer the producer wants to hold on to this material, the better for him, so increase your option payment to compensate after a yr.
    7. A setup bonus for you is also not applicable to your purchase price, a setup bonus can also extend two more times before it will be bought or will not be.
    8.  Some producers will want to try to get a free option, not neccesarily the best alternative for you.
    9.  Make sure you, when you get a deal, write down that the prod company will not shop material to any other  parties, so that the producer doesn’t waste your time in the end. But don’t burn bridges.
    10. 14.            The rights of a copyrighted work are  Reproduction the right to make copies..  Adaption – prepare new or derivative work on their own work.  Public distributionthe sold or rented rights. Public Performance – right to have their work performed. Public Display.- the right that refers to writing that can be explained in photographs.
  1.  A big part of the negotiation involves rights you will hold on to ( reserved rights) and rights you sell (granted rights) Prod companies and studios like to have all, although novelization rights can be secured.
  2. Some writers are able to secure publishing rights of the screenplay if only that one person worked on it. Some writers may be able to secure merchandisng rights, but this is very difficult.  All your rights are worth money so be careful.
  3.  A reversion is when they prodco or studio pay for your script and they can never get it off the ground. you may be able to get the script back.
  4.  THE PURCHASE CONTRACT MUST ALLOW A CLEAR TRANSFER OF RIGHTS. A FULL EXCERSISE OF TRANSFER TO COMPABNY FROM YOU IS WHEN YOU RECEIVE FUNDS FIRST. BE WRAY OF THE 5 MORE DAYS CLUSE IN THE CONTRACT. DON’T DO THIS 5 DYA THING EVER WITH AN INDEPENDENT CO.
  5.  Indemnification – is when the writer, producert said he wrote all of the script himself and they find out otherwise there is another partner. This is a breach of contract and owes a lot of monwey to the studio.

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