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Tips of the Trade:

Registering Your Screenplay with the WGA

In addition to placing the appropriate Copyright Notice on your work and registering the screenplay with the U.S. Copyright Office, it is also wise to register the screenplay or other literary material with the Writers' Guild of America.

Registration with the WGA does not provide a legal remedy in the event your screenplay content is stolen or infringed upon. However, registration with the Writers' Guild of America provides evidence of a date certain upon which a claim of authorship by a given author or writer is made to a particular screenplay or other literary material. If a copyright infringement lawsuit is filed, the custodian of records of the Writers Guild of America may be subpoenaed to testify at the trial and produce documentation in order to prove the date that a certain screenplay or other literary property, as registered, existed.

Such registration does not protect a title.

In order to deposit a screenplay with the WGA, you must provide the following:

  1. (1) unbound, loose leaf copy of the material on standard 81/2 inch x 11 inch paper.
  2. A cover sheet with the title of the material and all writers full legal names.
  3. Social Security Number, return address and phone number of at least one writer who is a registrant.
  4. Registration fee of $20.00 for non members.

Once this documentation is obtained and the fee paid, the screenplay is sealed in an envelope and the date and time of receipt are recorded. A numbered receipt is provided to you which serves as the official documentation of the registration. I would suggest that photocopies be made and the original be placed in a safety deposit box.

The WGA will accept screenplays, treatments, synopses, outlines, written ideas which are specifically intended for radio, television, theatrical, motion pictures, videocassettes/disks and interactive media. Their office will also accept stage plays, novels and other books, short stories, poems, commercials, lyrics and dramas.

The address to send your screenplay for registration with the Writers Guild is WGAw, Registration Department, 7000 West 3rd Street, Los Angeles, California, 90048. The telephone number is 323-782-4500, facsimile number is 323-782-4803, and the internet address is http://www.wga.org.

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