How to trademark a movie script [FAQ]

Last updated : Sept 11, 2022
Written by : Dulce Choudhary
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How to trademark a movie script

Can movie script be copyrighted?

Remember, copyright protects the expression of an idea, not the idea itself. So, a script or screenplay, as a detailed expression of an idea, is copyrightable.

Do I need to copyright my script?

Copyrighting your script is a necessary, but an oft-overlooked step in the process of getting it out into the world. If you're not copyrighting your work, you may be missing out on important legal protections and opportunities to license or sell it.

How can I protect my movie script?

The simplest, most legitimate way to protect your script is by registering it with the WGA. Registrations are just $20 and are valid for 5 years. You can register through the WGA even if you live outside the US (see below for more details). There are two WGAs—East and West.

How do I register a movie script?

  1. For registering the script, at first you take a membership of film writers association (Click Here To read Their Registration instructions ) Click Here To Sign Up/create account in FWA.
  2. Both handwritten and Typed manuscripts are accepted For the Registration Process.

Where do I copyright my script?

To copyright your screenplay, login to the US Copyright office and complete their application. They have an entire online area for scripts and screenplays. There is going to be a fee, but good news, it's cheaper online. Online can cost about $35-$55 but if you send in a paper application it's $85.

How much is it to copyright a script?

The steps are similar. Just send in a package that includes a completed application form ("Form PA"), one copy of the material, and a check for $45. Or you can register online and pay $35. (See the Copyright Office website, , for forms and instructions.)

How much does Amazon Studios pay for a script?

Amazon Studios' prior policy, until today, stated it had the exclusive right to buy a movie script for $200,000 or TV script for $55,000 from the day it's uploaded up to 45 days out. It can then pay $10,000 to extend that option for 18 months, which it can do up to two times, according to its FAQ.

How much does it cost to copyright a movie?

The standard filing fee for electronic registration is $65 for basic claims. However, the filing fee is $45 if you reg- ister one work, not made for hire, and you are the only author and claimant. To access electronic registration, go to the Copyright Office's website at

Do screenwriters sell their copyright?

As a screenwriter writing an original spec script — a screenplay written under speculation that you will sell it to someone — the moment you write the script is the moment that you own that copyright of it, which includes all exclusive ownership rights mentioned above.

Should I watermark scripts?

Watermarks are the quickest and easiest way to go. Not only will a watermark tell you who is receiving a particular copy, it adds two more layers of security. First, the recipient's name is printed big and bold across each page. There will be no mistaking who this copy was meant for.

Can someone steal your script?

It's rare that an experienced producer will actually steal a script from a writer. Anyone who's ever produced a movie knows it's much cheaper and easier to pay you for your screenplay than to defend a plagiarism lawsuit.

How long does it take to copyright a script?

On average, your screenplay copyright registration should process within approximately 60 days from the time you submit it online unless there is additional correspondence required.

Do I need to copyright my film?

Copyright in a motion picture is automatically secured when the work is created and “fixed” in a copy. Only the expression fixed in a motion picture (camera work, dialogue, sounds, and so on) is protected under copyright. Copyright does not cover the idea or concept behind a work or any characters portrayed in it.

Can you copyright a rough draft?

Copyright protection provided by the United States Library of Congress covers only that particular draft of a script as submitted. Any additional changes following that submitted draft are not legally covered by the copyright protection.

Why is copyright important for a script writer?

The copyright protection protects the rights and provides economic benefits to the real and original author to prevent their data from prevention, display, and generation of work.

What is the difference between screenplay and script?

A script is the initial outline of a production. It includes things like dialogue and actions, but it may not include foundational information needed for production. A screenplay is the finalized outline of the project, essentially being a step above a script.

How do you sell a screenplay without an agent?

  1. Here's the exercise:
  2. You must be on the web.
  3. Find your target buyers.
  4. Approach agents and producers by email.
  5. DO NOT, I repeat do not, attach your screenplay.
  6. Screenwriting contests.
  7. Go to pitch fests, writer's conferences and film festivals.

Can you sell a script to Netflix?

First and foremost, thank you for your interest in Netflix content! Unfortunately, we cannot and do not accept or review any materials (whether manuscripts, treatments, scripts, drawings, ideas, pics of rainbow-colored unicorns, etc.)

Can I submit a script to Netflix?

Netflix only accepts submissions through a licensed literary agent, or from a producer, attorney, manager, or entertainment executive with whom they have a pre-existing relationship. Any idea that is submitted by other means is considered an “unsolicited submission” and thus, sadly, they won't accept it.

What is the difference between copyright and trademark?

Copyright protects original work, whereas a trademark protects items that distinguish or identify a particular business from another. Copyright is generated automatically upon the creation of original work, whereas a trademark is established through common use of a mark in the course of business.

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How to trademark a movie script

Comment by Stephenie Tredennick

oh my god i got my screenwriting done the script's finished my movie's done and i don't know how to protect it how do you copyright your film quick tip for you you do not need to register it with the wga with the writer's guild of america it's not necessary in order to protect your screenplay you just have to copyright it in order to protect it hey everyone my name is alan norther giving me filmmaking tips and tricks and this video is going to teach you how to copyright my script so you copyright it with the government they protect your work you pay them and they make sure your id is protected so let's get into it so first thing you want to do um is you want to go to boom and then after that you want to click register a copyright click that over here and then you go to log in to the electronic copyright office ecore eco registration system and so you click that and say you want to log in if you're a new user you just you know click your i'm a new user and register right there um so i'm just going to hit login so under register a work you just select this here standard application so only take a look at this so you click standard application so you should only be looking at this right here like all of this this sentence right here this sentence basically tells you what the standard x what the standard application covers these are all of the exceptions okay this basically informs you all the exceptions that are not eligible to be registered so you'd want to read over this if you're not trying to copyright a screenplay or movie after you decide it's eligible which means it's a movie that you've made or a script that you've wrote you click start registration so in the drop down menu you want to click work of the performing arts if it's a script if it's a movie you want to click motion picture or av work and then you click whichever box it is let's say it's a script you click here and then you click that and it tells you basically what you know what work is eligible for it you know it's a script boom i'm covered and then you click this box right here at the bottom after you've read all of this description if you read this and you determine that that's fine uh which it should be and then after that you click continue okay so now you're going to hit new for the new title and then you hit new for the new title that's being registered and then you click um and then you click title of work being registered here so and then after that you just enter the title of the screenplay let's say it's the roses is the title let's say okay so let's save that okay and then hit continue has this work been published so most likely it's going to be a no and then you just type in the year that it was created let's see 2016 and pre-registration number no most likely you haven't done that so after you've done the year of completion you just hit continue so if you actually wrote this screenplay you're just going to go to add me if you're doing this for the writer of the screenplay you click add new so i'm going to go add me because i wrote it citizenship united states united states so you click your year of birth blah blah you do that and you click save so basically you check what you've contributed to the work here and then you click text because it's a screenplay right so you hit save so there you just click the ways that you contributed to the work and then you click save if two people wrote the screenplay you can go to the new to add their name and repeat the same thing continue because you are the author all right so so this will ask you about the claimant this is you if you wrote the screenplay so you just go to add me if the script or movie belongs to someone else you have to go to new instead in the previous screen if it's not your work you've gotta write a statement explaining how you've gotten the copyright so here you type in the information you basically click one or the other so it's going to be an individual or what an individual or an organization so most likely it's just going to be you so you just hit do that hit save okay so now after all the claimants are in you hit continue if your film or screenplay only has content belonging to just you then just hit continue here as long as your work has no pre-existing materials in it you just hit continue now you have rights and permissions so if the scripted movie is yours just hit add me then all the information will populate here and then hit continue for correspondent you simply click add me and then you hit continue and make sure everything is filled out and hit continue and then mail certificate you basically add me and you write down where you want the registration certificate to be mailed and then you click continue you know state postal code so special handling so special handling is basically where you pay for the registration to be handled quickly and so it costs a significant amount of cash so please only do this when you absolutely need to when it's absolutely necessary otherwise just wait the normal three to eight months you know that period is fine just just wait three to eight months just like the rest of us and then it continue because otherwise it's super expensive so now i certify that blah blah blah yes yes yes read this man false representation just you know certifying that you have the authority to do the copyright blah blah blah you just write your name and stuff alan allen yes yep blah blah blah continue okay so blah blah blah blah blah blah so now you want to review all the information to ensure that everything is actually correct that everything is accurate and then you want to do add to cart and then after you add to cart you click check out and then you pay so then after that you're gonna get an email confirmation of the payment now click continue this is the most important part this is where you're gonna actually submit the work so before submitting the work take a look at all the links underneath in red to make sure that you are submitting an eligible file type then select the file to upload quick tip when you're submitting a film feature film or motion picture you've got to make sure that the entire film the whole film in its entirety is under 500 megabits so that's the maximum so you have to export a super super low res version of your feature film or you can compress it into a zip file now select the blue start upload button now when the files been successfully uploaded you'll see text beneath what you've uploaded saying successfully uploaded and then your file name after that's all done you want to hit the green button that says click here to complete your submission after uploading all files after that you should receive an email confirmation confirming that they have received your file and that's all folks i hope that was helpful if you're new to the channel please feel free to take a look at all of my screenwriting videos and also take a look at the brotherhood it's on amazon prime right now it's a film that i made if you're a filmmaker please take a look at my clover key it's a camera plate screwdriver as well as a bottle opener and you'll

Thanks for your comment Stephenie Tredennick, have a nice day.
- Dulce Choudhary, Staff Member

Comment by Aubrey

hi and thanks for watching this video will show you how to register a screenplay with the US Copyright Office my name is Larry Serdar I've been a copyright and entertainment attorney for more than 20 years we'll go step by step page by page and you'll know exactly what to do to fill out the form and you'll I'll show you a tip at the end of this which will make it very very easy to register more screenplays in the future so the first one might take you ten or fifteen minutes the next one will take you about two minutes that's how easy it is it's also very important to register your scripts with the Copyright Office because you can only get attorneys fees and statutory damages in a lawsuit if you've registered before any infringement began after you begin it's too late to get those things you can still sue but you can't get your attorneys fees so very important to register your screenplay not just this one the one you're in front of you but if you have older ones you haven't registered go back and register them not not just with the Writers Guild the Writers Guild is not does not give you sufficient protection so let's get started okay okay the first thing we need to do is take your browser and go to copyright gov once you're there you need to go to the electronic Copyright Office if you haven't already done so you need to register I'm not going to walk you through that it's pretty simple but register over the electronic Copyright Office and then go through the login process and once you're logged in you'll get to this Start screen and off from the Start screen you can check your progress of any registrations that are being done or the status of past registrations but right now we want to register a new claim so we go over to the register a new claim link and click on it that will take us to this page on this page you will see these step 1 step 2 step 3 and you might think you're going to click on them but you're not these links that you'll see all through the copyright gov website will take you to pages that explain that procedure so if you want to know about making a payment you would click on this link right now we want to do is go up here and start the registration on this page you'll see a list of the types of works that you might be registering now we're registering a screenplay and you might think that that applies as a motion picture audio-visual work but it doesn't what they want you to do it as a work of the Performing Arts and you can see it says screenplay right there now you don't register it by clicking on this link instead you go to the bottom of the screen where it says type of work and choose work of the Performing Arts and then go and click continue okay this next screen asks you to add a title of your work and you can see on the left there is a list and it will show you all the various pages that you're going to go through to register the screenplay so the first one is title and we don't have a title yet so we're going to click on the new button and that will take us to this screen and then it will say title type pull down the drop-down menu and it says title of work being registered that's all you need to know click on that and then add the title of the work a keep in mind that the copyright registration does not protect the title of the work and titles of single works cannot be protected by copyright and also keep in mind that probably the title of your script will not be the title when it is actually released as a movie those things are decided by the studio you very rarely will have say over what the title is so right now what you want to put is your title if you whatever you're calling it that's fine don't worry if you change the title later I will just we'll register this as Larry's best romantic comedy and then we will hit save that will take us back to the title screen we are now done with the title and we hit continue this next page asks us one question has this work been published since it is a screenplay it is very doubtful that you have published the screenplay you have not given it out to the public to be to be sold or distributed wildly throughout public probably your own script it's been in your drawer or on your computer so we're just going to put note and then you get more questions it will ask you the year of completion well the year of completion will be whatever year you completed it in this case 2012 and then it does ask for a pre-registration number you almost certainly have not pre registered because you're watching this video and pre-registration will be the subject of a different video not something you need to worry about there leave that number blank and hit continue okay when you get to this page it asks for the author or authors of the work so you enter the names of the authors one at a time and you can do that you by hitting the new button if you're already registered you can shorten things up by clicking the add me button over here but I'm going to do it the slow way right now and just hit new you will get this page this will ask you to add your name which I will do and then it will ask you is this author's contribution a work made for hire since the script I wrote I'm not didn't write it for a company no one hired me to write it I'm not doing it for someone else the answer is No you know if you are registering on behalf of a company that hired someone to do it under a work-for-hire agreement then you would put yes otherwise that you're going to put no and then it will ask you your citizenship status the Copyright Office does not discriminate based on your citizenship doesn't matter they just do want to know what yours what country you're citizen of if you are registering it under a company name then you would put a domicile you can put your year of birth if you want it's optional and that's if there are other people with your name out there and you want to make sure that you're they're not confused you can put your year of birth to make sure that people know that that's you and it's not some other Larry's earner if you are registering it anonymously you can do that by clicking the box and if you want to do it under a pseudonym you can do that by clicking this box and then adding a pseudonym down here and then just hit save the next page asks you what each author did so in this case it's a screenplay and it would be a text let's say going down the road there's going to be another author who added lyrics to your screenplay for that one you would click the lyrics box but this is just a screenplay there's no music in it so we just click text and then we hit save and you see my name there now if I want to add a second person because I wrote as let's say you wrote the script with a partner then you will click the new button again and it will go through that process again to add a second name and again you can make any changes down over here by clicking the edit button and that will let you go back to that thing and edit all these things and we will continue this next page asks us who the copyright claimants are now in this case you're registering the screenplay in your own behalf so you're

Thanks Aubrey your participation is very much appreciated
- Dulce Choudhary

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