How do I prevent people from stealing my screenplay and idea?

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There is no provision in South African law to register ones copyright, other than copyright in a film as defined in the Copyright Act. What that means is that there is no copyright on an idea. It has to be written out to a minimum of synopsis length, and has to give a good outline of your characters, the problems they face and how they resolve their challenge. In other words, the more detail you put on paper, the better your chance of proving that a particular work is your Intellectual Property. The WGSA Script Registry allows you to lodge your synopsis, treatment and/or screenplay in a safe environment, and have it registered to your name on the date and time you submit it. This holds up in court as proof of ownership of the work as lodged. If you suspect that your work has been plagiarised , the copy you submitted to the registry will be compared to the work of the other party, and similarities in the story and character arcs as well as dialogue will be evaluated. Just changing names of characters and places is no longer sufficient to misappropriate a script or screenplay, and courts both locally and internationally have ruled very hard against people trying to steal other writers’ Intellectual Property.

Category: Copyright, Screenplay, Writing
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