Not really, but you’d be surprised how often this concern comes up. As content creators struggle between how to get their work noticed in all of the noise the ever expanding media reach brings and how to make sure their creation is protected because it is their baby, we all question the security of putting our work out there.
Whether it’s an open pitch forum, sending in a query or pages or posting online in places such as this site, it is smart to be cautious. However, the reality is, the zeitgeist is an amazing thing. Every competition cycle reminds me of this, because each one brings a fresh set of similar ideas.
It came up yet again last evening as I discussed the structure of an online pitch competition with a new production company.
Imagine this idea:
An alien crash lands on earth and befriends a human child, their lives become at risk as the child tries to save the new friend from authorities.
Most of you will immediately think of E.T. THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL
To which I say what about, Earth to Echo, Lilo and Stitch, Iron Giant, Transformers…etc. This example surely points to the rationale that there are no new ideas. But to the point of them being stolen, you can see that in this example that the expression of the core idea is different enough in each instance that no one accused the creators of ripping each other off. I’d add that they all saw a fair amount of success that wasn’t threatened by the others.
Copyright law does not protect ideas, so yes, your pitch can be stolen. But it does protect the expression of the idea – your execution.
So what can you do?
- Write it – even if it is just a treatment and not a full script or novel yet, you can copyright a treatment.
- Copyright it
- Get it out there. Today more than ever, creators across the globe can see their work take off, but it never will if you don’t pitch, post, promote and share.