Richard asked: I want to pitch my screenplay idea. How do I protect it from being stolen?
There are three things to remember when it comes to protecting your intellectual property:
1. Your idea is automatically copyrighted when you create it. Be sure to indicate the year, name, copyright and the © symbol on your document.
2. You can register your idea with the Writers Guild of America, even if you are not a member. There is a fee. This does not guarantee protection of your document, but is helpful in court should you wind up there. Try www.wga.org
3. You cannot completely protect your ideas and pitch them at the same time. If you burn your idea, or lock it in your drawer and let no eye rest upon it, no one will ever steal it. But if you walk into a room of strangers and tell them all about it, you are taking the risk that one or more of them is unscrupulous and will steal it. This happens. But in my experience it happens rarely, and there’s no way to eliminate the risk. The best defense is to have a reputable agent who would listen to you if you complained of theft. The culprit, if he or she is part of a legitimate entertainment company, would then risk being cut off from any further business with clients of your agency.
Do your best to sell your ideas and don’t over-worry about them being stolen. People are generally willing to pay for good stuff.