Find Out How To Copyright a Script and Fend Off Copycats

Have you got a script for a new blockbuster? Make sure no one steals it before you it gets to producers! If you want to protect your work, learn how to copyright! Find out how copyright works and how different copyright laws can help you deal with infringement

Copyright Explained

Once you create something and put it in a tangible form such as a video, book, or script, you automatically get copyrights to it. When you own copyrights to a piece of work, it means that no one but you can do the following actions concerning your creation:


  • Make copies
  • Distribute and display it publicly 
  • Make adaptations and derivative works, such as sequels and prequels

You can copyright various kinds of visual, audio, and literary works including songs, poems, video games, TV shows, films, scripts, and screenplays.

Once you get it, copyright lasts during your lifetime and 70 years after your death.

What you should know is that you can’t copyright an idea. You may have an awesome idea for a new movie, but you can’t prevent others from using the same idea. It may happen that two people come up with the same plan for a movie or a play, and they just need to express it differently to gain copyrights to their work. Once you formulate and organize your idea in a unique script and put it in a tangible form—on a paper or as a digital document—you can claim copyrights to it. 

In case you write a script as a part of your job at a company, your employer will probably be the one to hold copyrights to your work.    

Ways To Protect Your Script and Reasons To Register Your Script for Copyright

Once you create a script, you can protect it from infringement in several ways:

Protection How? Pros Cons
Poor Man’s Copyright Write a script, mail it to yourself, and don’t open the envelope when you get the letter Get the proof of the date you made the script Might not serve anything at the court since it’s easy to put a fake date on a letter
Copyright Notice Write a notice saying you own copyrights to the script Deter others from using your work without your permission Won’t help you much if you decide to sue the infringer and you haven’t registered your copyright to the script
WGA East and WGA West Register your script at the Writers Guild of America  Get proof of authorship and record the date of your creation Doesn’t give you the power to make a lawsuit
Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) Protection Make copyright claims to DMCA for the digital versions of your script Request they take the infringing content down Will cost you some money and time to solve the infringement case
U.S. Copyright Office Register your work for copyrights Exercise your right to file a lawsuit against the person who infringed your copyrights Takes a while for them to make your registration

Out of all ways to protect your work from copyright infringement, registering your work at the U.S. Copyright Office is the one that gives you the right to sue infringers. When you have your work registered, you will be able to recover the monetary damages and collect attorney fees if you win the case.

If you want to file a lawsuit for copyright infringement, you should respect the statute of limitations and do it within three years after you find out about the copyright violation of your work.

Register a Script or Screenplay for Copyright Online

You can register your work at the U.S. Copyright Office by following these steps:

  1. Go to their website
  2. Click on Register
  3. Select Performing Arts
  4. Sign up or log in to your account if you already have it
  5. Fill out the form
  6. Pay for the fees
  7. Submit your work and finalize your registration

You can expect to get an email that should state they received your application.

How To Copyright a Script or Screenplay via the Mail

You can also register your work by sending a letter to the U.S. Copyright Office. Here is what you need to include:

  • The application form that you printed and filled out
  • The printed version of your script
  • $85 for the registration fee

Once you gather all of this, you can send your registration letter to 101 Independence Ave SE, Washington, DC 20540, United States.

How Long Does It Take To Copyright a Screenplay?

Since you automatically get copyrights as soon as you finish writing your scripts, you could say it takes only a moment. In case you want to have official confirmation and try to register your work at the U.S. Copyright Office, you might wait for a while to get their response. 

When you make the online registration, it can take months for them to deal with your application. If you apply by mail, you might wait even longer for them to register your work—often more than a year. The good news is that they will put the date when they received your application as the date of your registration.

Use DoNotPay To File a DMCA Notice Quickly and Easily

In case you don’t want to file a lawsuit for copyright infringement but still want to get back at the person who stole your work, you can file a DMCA notice. You can do it in no time if you use DoNotPay, and you don’t even have to have your work registered!

Our app allows you to make a DMCA notice by following a few easy steps:

  1. Access DoNotPay in any web browser
  2. Select the DMCA Takedown option
  3. Provide the name of the material you want to dispute
  4. Give us the links to both your original content and the one that violates your copyrights
  5. Verify your contact information
  6. Click on Sign and Submit
  7. Check out My Disputes to see the results

DoNotPay is the world’s first robot lawyer and is an expert in dealing with small legal issues. In 2020, the American Bar Association recognized our justice efforts and gave us the Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access.

DoNotPay Handles the Tasks You Would Rather Avoid

Sometimes, protecting your script won’t be enough because others can take advantage of the characters you create to misuse your work. To prevent this, see how to copyright a character

With DoNotPay, you can also learn how to copyright a book or a poem.

Have you seen someone using your work on YouTube without your permission? Learn how a copyright claim and copyright disclaimer can help you protect your content.

We can help you with a plethora of other tasks and issues! Use any web browser to access DoNotPay and get our assistance in: