Protecting Your Ideas When Pitching the TV Industry
Research: Read and study industry trades and resources such as Variety.com or The Hollywood Reporter which detail industry activity and current projects going into production. Developing projects that are identical to those already in production serves no purpose, and only creates frustration. Developing relations with a development executive or producer can give you a critical edge in gathering information about projects in development at networks and production companies. Many of the writers at TV Writers Vault have benefited from having their projects reviewed and received contact requests by our company member executives with whom they continue to maintain communications with.
Content Development: The detailed development and writing of an idea is the most important factor in establishing “originality” and protection under copyright law. The key to developing a great idea for a TV show is to create a unique approach and content for your show. The concept may tell us the overall situation and result, but the content shows us what happens during the show. Always focus on “what we’re actually watching”, and illustrate those details in your creative writing so that you establish those unique and original facets of your concept. This also helps a production company see its potential, to know if its viable as a production, and to learn how you think as a creator.
Monitored Marketing: If finding opportunities to pitch your project to producers and networks is the most difficult part of the sales process, protecting your project is the most important. Follow these industry standards and have confidence in sharing your creations:
Pitch Established Producers and Companies: Keep a paper trail of all correspondence. The TV Writers Vault offers electronic proof of review in a live-updated report for your records. Access to the TV Writers Vault is only granted to pre-screened and established industry members (Producers and Executives).
Do Not Make Unsolicited Pitches or submissions as the company receiving has no responsibility or obligation to “ideas” they did not ask for, or have not been submitted under pre-established guidelines with the use of an Industry Standard Material Release Form. All production and network members of The TV Writers Vault agree to our standard terms of service and Non-Disclosure Agreement.
Executives and Companies using The Television Writers Vault to scout projects are all well established, respected within the television producing community, and place a high value on reputation and relations within their community of network executives, producers and writers. Every company and executive that uses TVWritersVault.com has agreed to our Confidentiality/Terms of Service policy. Member writers may enter the Television Writers Vault using a unique username and password where they are then taken to a PERSONAL PROJECT STATUS PAGE linked to our database that will post LIVE activity of companies reviewing material. Executives viewing material posted with the TV Writers Vault may select status’ such as “Under Consideration”, “Pass”, “Requesting Contact with Writer”, or “Send Script for Review” as applicable for any projects reviewed. That status is then posted in real time to the specific writer’s status page under their title listings with date of activity. Our system sends automatic electronic notification to the Writer when any activity happens on their project. We make every attempt to keep the writer in the know of all activity regarding their projects.
Additionally, you, the writer, must be very clear on what you are presenting and know the difference between a generic idea (“stock idea”) and a clearly developed concept for a show. Vague, generic, or stock “Ideas” are not protected by copyright law. It is the specific and unique expression of an original concept that is protected as an “Intellectual Property”. Therefore, the more specific and original you are, the more protection you have.
Anyone who intends on making progress and building relationships in the entertainment industry must understand that success is built on collaboration, and you cannot move forward unless you are willing to expose your creations. People who are legitimate have no need to steal ideas, as it puts their relationships at risk with everyone related to producing the show if they subject themselves to a potential lawsuit. It’s too easy for an executive to keep a relationship open with a writer who can consistently bring them good ideas, rather than risking reputation and relationships for one idea that may or may not come to fruition in the market. With that said, you should only deal with companies and executives that have reputable track records. Also important to know is that we DO NOT allow any writers to search or view our database of projects. Only industry executives that have been screened and are current members may review projects in our database.
How do you improve the level of protection your original work has? Get time-stamped “Proof of Creation” to establish third-party validation of your project establishing creation at a specific time prior to marketing your project. CreatorsVault.com is a web-based archival system where you can upload your original written material to a protected database and in return receive a time-stamped electronic certificate and “CV Number”. Your material is then archived in original form and only released as third-party evidence in the event of any legal proceeding or arbitration. Upon registration with CreatorsVault.com keep the registration certificate in your personal files, and simply type your “CV Number” on your show treatment whenever submitting the project to potential buyers and industry executives. Return to submit your show to the Television Writers Vault and we will return formal confirmation of your materials received.
Save all correspondences with any company that engages you via our services. When a company or executive makes an offer to “option” (buy) your show, that’s the time to seek the assistance of an entertainment attorney to provide sound negotiation and settlement of terms to your favor.