Re: Text to Script

Subject: Re: Text to Script
From: Tim Altom <taltom -at- IQUEST -dot- NET>
Date: Thu, 30 May 1996 14:33:00 EST

At 02:26 PM 5/30/96 -0500, you wrote:
>-- [ From: Tina McBrearty * EMC.Ver #2.3 ] --

> I have two questions to pose to the list. Please excuse me if my first
>question sounds very basic, but I am new at this.
> I just started working within the last six months at a video production
>company. We do industrial videos for high tech companies, so the tech
>writing I do, is taking technical information that already exists and turn
>it into video script format. My question is this: companies we work for
>generally ask me to take their existing material (such as brochures,
>product descriptions, other videos, ect...) and compose the script from it.
> In many cases I lift copy word for word from their material, and there is
>never any author to whom this work is attributed. Am I infringing on
>anyone's copyright by doing this? The assumption seems to be that the
>companies "own" this work and they can reuse it as they see fit, but I was
>wondering if this is the case.
> Next question, because I write scripts I would be interested in finding
>out if there were any lists that pertain to scriptwriting that anyone on
>here knows about.

Howdy, Tina. The simple first step is to check for a copyright notification
on the materials you're lifting from. If it's something like "copyright 2006
Snarglegarf Corporation," and that's the name of your client, you're almost
certainly clean. Companies usually try (if they're smart) to own the
copyrights on their brochures and other materials. Sometimes, though, their
advertising company or other writing service will hold the copyright, and
that should be in the copyright notification, too. If the name in the
copyright notice isn't one you recognize, back up the truck and get the
client to sign an agreement holding you blameless for infringement, and
stating that, to the best of their corporate knowledge, they hold the
copyright. It may not save you, but it shows that you're a nice person, and
judges appreciate that.

The total absence of a copyright notice doesn't mean that somebody doesn't
own the copyright, but it does mean that you can't be prosecuted for
violating it. The government isn't stupid, and in exchange for holding a
copyright, the government say you have to let the unsuspecting public know
you hold it. If you don't, infringers can pounce on it with impunity.

By the way, since we're on the subject, does your company's contract with
the client specify who owns the copyrights on your materials? We've often
inserted a clause into our contract that specifies that the client doesn't
get his copyright until the project is paid for. It came in handy once, too.

As to a scriptwriting list, I'm not aware of one, but that's not a big part
of our business. If nobody here can help you, try getting on a usenet group
that's as close as you can get to scriptwriting and ask your question there.

Tim Altom
Vice President, Simply Written, Inc.
317.899.5882 (voice) 317.899.5987 (fax)
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