1) Circalit enables screenwriter to prove “prior access” and keeps track of every single person that reads their screenplay (click to view all).
In cases where a screenwriter accuses a production company of intellectual property theft, the screenwriter must first prove that the production company had “prior access” to his/her screenplay, that is, that they had already read the screenplay and that the production company took their ideas directly from that screenplay. Unless he can prove “prior access” a screenwriter will have little grounds for a challenge. Circalit protects writers by recording a “paper trail” of every single person that reads their screenplay. This paper trail is a safer and more comprehensive way of protecting screenplays from plagiarism than sending out hard copies, which could end up in the hands of anyone. Sending out a hard copy puts your script entirely beyond your control and relies on the professionalism and integrity of agents and producers, a trust which has often been breached in the past. Most cases of copyright theft that are taken to court do not originate from online theft but rather come from old fashioned methods of pitching screenplays. Circalit on the other hand leaves nothing to chance, so if a production company is secretly browsing your script then we’ll know!
2) Circalit gives you the option to show as much or as little of your screenplay as you feel comfortable with.
Copyright law cannot protect your “idea” for a screenplay, which is to say, a concept for a screenplay cannot be “owned.” The law can only protect your particular rendering of that idea. Circalit allows you to post a sample of your screenplay so that agents and producers can see the quality of your work, without giving away the entire plot. As a screenwriter you have to strike a balance between marketing your script and protecting it, and Circalit empowers screenwriters to make that decision for themselves by revealing as much of their script as they are comfortable with. At the same time, writers also need feedback and workshops in order to grow, as well as the ability to see what ideas are already out there. Locking your screenplay away in a safe and never getting any feedback on it is unlikely to lead to success. If your script still needs a lot of work then it might be a good idea to make more of it public so that you can get as much feedback as possible and work on improving it. If it is completely finished and you are happy with it then err on the side of caution. The choice is yours but remember that unless you show your script to others it will never get the attention it deserves. Building up a fanbase for your work on Circalit is also a good way of demonstrating that your screenplay has a readership and the idea is marketable to producers.
3) Circalit allows you to selectively control who you want share your script with.
On Circalit, writers can limit the audience of their script to the friends that they trust. Similarly, Circalit gives writers the ability to spread their screenplay virally across facebook and other platforms reaching thousands of people. In either case, the purpose of Circalit is to put the individual screenwriter in control of the way that his/her script is marketed and distributed.
4) Posting your script on Circalit constitutes an act of digital publishing which protects your script from plagiarism.
There is a common misconception that it is possible for a production company to simply take material off the internet with little fear of retribution. Although we would definitely advise screenwriters to register their work with the US Copyright Office, you can rest assured that posting your script on Circalit constitutes an act of digital publishing which, in most countries, is sufficient copyright protection in itself. This is NOT the case for all sites online so please be careful where you post your script. Most countries have copyright relations with each other and honor each other’s citizens’ copyrights. However, this is not the case for every country. For a listing of countries and the nature of their copyright relations with the United States please click on the following link.
5) Circalit strictly forbids copying, highlighting, downloading and printing.
Please remember that hard copies can also be photocopied or scanned into a computer and turned into editable text very easily. But most of all, please make sure you avoid any site that allows one or more of the 4 Cardinal Sins – copying, highlighting, downloading and printing. There really is no excuse for this and we are often dismayed to find screenwriters treating their scripts so carelessly. On Circalit, all of these are forbidden – there is simply no way a screenplay can be taken off Circalit without your consent. Please take the time to scout out thoroughly any site on which you are thinking of posting your screenplay and be extra careful when it comes to handing out hard copies of your script.
So what is the right way to get your script out there?
Although there is a lot of debate surrounding this area, there really is no right or wrong answer. We all know that being an undiscovered screenwriter is incredibly difficult in many ways. Unless you put your script out there it will never be noticed. On the other hand, it is very important to protect your script in every way that you can. Many people think that deliberately avoiding online distribution platforms will necessarily prevent plagiarism. This is by no means true. On the contrary, the majority of intellectual property cases in the screenwriting industry that find their way into the courts have nothing to do with online theft. On top of this agents and producers are increasingly turning to the internet as the main place for finding new talent, and if you ignore this you are ignoring a significant outlet for your work to be showcased.
Remember that the most important thing for a screenwriter is to make contacts! That’s why Circalit isn’t just a place for you to post your script, it is a social network that interacts with other social networking platforms such as facebook and is host to a number of agents, producers and other industry professionals. Although it may at times seem like an impossible task to get your screenplay into the hands of a producer, in actual fact it is very often the other way round. Agents are crying out for new talent! Circalit uses advanced algorithms to rank each screenplay in order of popularity according to peer review and it therefore allows you to demonstrate to producers that your script has support from within the industry. Building up a fanbase for your screenplay is a good idea as it shows that your script is popular and marketable. Every screenwriter knows that it isn’t enough to sit back and wait for success to come to you. Our advice to would-be screen writers is to embrace digital distribution and online screenwriting communities BUT to do so in a safe and secure manner. Follow our 5 rules and your screenplay will be safe:
Our Advice For Safely Distributing Your Screenplay:
1) Register your screenplay with the U.S Copyright Office. Registering your screenplay with the U.S. Copyright Office is only slightly more expensive than registering with the WGA and a better way of protecting your screenplay (please see the table below). The Copyright Office will give you an official record of copyright registration, which will allow you to immediately file a lawsuit against screenplay theft and potentially recover attorney fees . Please note: Since the U.S. does not have a “loser pays” rule in litigation, the only way to be eligible for attorney’s fees in a copyright infringement lawsuit is if you have your work registered with the U.S. Copyright Office the infringement begins. Since one usually becomes aware of a copyright infringement at the point when you find out about the movie, by then it is already too late to sue. Also, in the U.S., prior registration is required if one wants to sue for statutory damages (which can be up to $150, 000 for willful infringment) as opposed to actual damages (which could be much less). So please make sure your script is registered prior to sending it out. (Courtesy of Larry Zerner at www.zernerlaw.com)
2) Register your screenplay with the Writers Guild of America – If you have some extra cash we recommend you do this on top of copyright registration as it is useful to the extent that it establishes the date of registration, but please note: it gives writers no other protection.
3) Only post your scripts on legitimate sites that do not allow text to be copied, highlighted, printed or downloaded. Scout out every single site you plan to use thoroughly and look at how other scripts have been treated.
4) Make sure that whatever site you post your script on keeps a log of who reads your script . (Unfortunately, as far as we are aware, Circalit is the only site that currently offers this feature, but other sites may follow our example).
5) Keep a track of exactly who has a hard copy of your script at all times and make sure that they do not distribute it without your permission.
What Countries Does a US Copyright Cover?
The United States has copyright relations with most countries throughout the world, and as a result of these agreements, we honor each other’s citizens’ copyrights. However, the United States does not have such copyright relationships with every country. For a listing of countries and the nature of their copyright relations with the United States, see Circular 38a,