Debunking Screenwriter Myths, Part V – Posting Scripts Online

type  There are many online sites that allow and encourage script placements for the purpose of marketing, sharing, giving and receiving feedback. Among the more successful sites include Ink Tip, Talentville, Amazon and Triggerstreet.

Some writers are apprehensive about posting their beloved projects for all to see, for fear of someone “stealing” the script, or the concept and making a fortune off of their hard work. This, in itself, is ridiculous, yet they’ll always claim they “know somebody who knew somebody.” The fact is that IDEAS cannot be copyrighted; federal law dictates only the expression of those ideas- whether it is a screenplay, treatment of synopsis- is copyrightable. Therefore, if someone takes your original concept- let’s say a comedy about a three-headed, half-man, half-goat President- then goes out and WRITES A BETTER SCRIPT, all is fair. Posting one’s script online is perfectly safe and just one of several marketing opportunities one should take advantage of if they can afford to do so.

Have screenplays and concepts been “stolen” before? Yes, and some writers have brought lawsuits against major studios making this claim.  The writer of the screenplay that is believed to have been the “inspiration” of Matt Damon’s “Rounders”, Jeff Grosso, sued — but lost. As did the writer for “Heart Copy”, who sued Focus Features for what he believed was the basis of “Broken Flowers”. Several others still have been settled out of court, and you can only imagine that some these writers managed to negotiate a payment and writing deal instead of bringing the practice of studios stealing ideas to light.

Another reason to post scripts to the public is to market YOURSELF as a writer and a brand. While a particular script may not work for me, the writing style may catch my eye. Perhaps there is that one project that needs a certain writer’s flair that only you can provide. It’s just another avenue of opportunity.

The numbers of producers and industry pros who read these scripts and get access to these scripts is more then you could possibly meet in a lifetime of meetings. Why not take advantage of it?  So many writers have been discovered, and so many deals have been initiated through these sites, that it is foolish not to do so. It may be cost-prohibitive for some; I get that. But, like everything else in life, you have to make some worthy investment of time and/or money if your wish to make it at some level.

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