Screenwriting Secrets by John Scott Lewinski

Screenwriting Secrets » Protect Your Work Online

For decades, when a writer finished his or her script and wanted to protect it from Hollywood hustlers more than willing to steal their work, he or she would turn to Federal Copyright or the Writer's Guild of America's registration service for protection and peace of mind. However, with the coming of the information age, a new service is available for writers to protect their work and have constant, immediate access to proof of their ownership.

The ProtectRite website, a service of the National Creative Registry, calls itself "the creator and pioneer of online intellectual property registration." Founded by writers and attorneys in 1994, the Registry's ProtectRite service processes thousands of online registrations each year from writers, screenwriters, attorneys, songwriters, advertising agencies, Internet & software developers, inventors, scientists, and corporations.

Through secure on-line servers, ProtectRite provides confidential, timed and dated registration of original creative works and intellectual property. ProtectRite legally establishes the completion date of registered materials and offers the security of long-term storage in the event that an original data copy crashes.

Any original or creative work is registerable through the service. Once a document is saved on the Registry's servers, only the creator has access to the registration data. ProtectRite offers three separate redundant storage systems to ensure any file is secure and protected. Following registration, the creator can print a certificate immediately as hard copy proof of protection. The registrant also receives an e-mailed receipt with a confidential registration confirmation number. Requests for access to registered materials can only be made by the original registrant accompanied by registration number and notarized letter.

The serve costs $18.95 for a 10-year registration. The site accepts MasterCard, Visa and American Express and uses secure servers to protect account privacy. At any time, up to one-month before expiration, a user can renew for an additional 10-year term by paying the fee. ProtectRite does not make comparisons of registration submissions or give any legal advice or confer any statutory protections.

Adam Jacobs, National Registry's chief, explained that his father was a novelist. Since he came from a family of writers, Jacobs said that he wanted to make writer's lives easier by offering them an alternative when protecting their work.

Asked why a writer should consider his service over Copyright or Guild protection, Jacobs pointed out that writers need to understand what ProtectRite does in detail:

"First, I think it's important not to misrepresent what we do," he said. "We offer the same level of protection as The Writer's Guild. However, we offer more for less. We provide 10 years of registration instead of the Guild's five. Our service is less expensive than Guild registration and more convenient since writers can verify their certificate 24 hours a day, on demand."

Original registrants can request an emergency copy of their registration file via e-mail, as long as registrants use the e-mail address specified at the time of registration. Upon approval, registration files will only be e-mailed to that address. Requests for access to registered materials can only be made by the original registrant accompanied by registration number and notarized letter.

"Protecting intellectual property essentially comes down to two questions," Adams said. "'How do you prove it was yours?' and 'What date and time was it created?' So, ProtectRite provides a digital date and time stamp."

Jacobs urges writers to copyright their work in addition to using his registration service. During disputes of ownership, Copyright verifications via mail can take months, while the Writer's Guild might require a visit down to their headquarters. Only The US Copyright Office can issue a formal copyright, however, the law states that when a creator affixes his or her name and date to an original work, the creator is automatically entitled to copyright protection.

Since the copyright office takes an average of six-months to process applications, Adams said many writers register with ProtectRite for instant peace of mind and as added protection so they can begin showing their work immediately.

"Writers want peace of mind now," Jacobs said. "Our service allows them to have that."

To visit the ProtectRite website, click here.

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