If You Have A Screenplay Worth Millions, Shouldn't You Back It Up?

from the courts-think-so dept

Here's a fun story for a Friday. It appears that a guy who had written three screenplays (creatively titled: "Color of Tulip," "Blood on Ice," and "Blood on Seven Hills") saved them all to his desktop and didn't bother backing them up. At one point, he had entered into negotiations to sell the screenplays for $2.7 million, but those talks never went anywhere. However, sometime after this, he signed up for DSL from SBC (now AT&T). When the technician came to his house to install the DSL, he tried to "help" by cleaning up the "unused" items on the guy's desktop -- which, of course, included the screenplays. Eventually, SBC paid for data recovery (and fired the technician), which seems fair. The data recovery process didn't fully work, since it wasn't done until quite some time after the files were deleted, by which point the data had been overwritten. However, the guy wanted more, claiming that the screenplays were worth the millions he never actually got in a signed deal. The courts, however, appear to disagree, with a jury noting that he was also at fault for not making a backup of such "valuable" files. While it's true that the tech never should have deleted the files, it's a bit of a stretch to believe that they're worth millions without any deal in place. The lack of a backup suggests that the guy didn't even value the content enough to do the most basic of backups.

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  1. identicon
    Pseudonym, 8 Jul 2006 @ 5:36pm

    Advice for the budding screenwriter...

    For the benefit of those who don't know about the business of screenwriting, it's pretty clear that this guy knew nothing.

    Here's what you're supposed to do. You write your screenplay (though you should probably even do this with a treatment), then you print out a copy and seal it in an envelope. You lodge this with the local Writer's Guild.

    Then, and only then, can you start negotiating.

    This serves multiple purposes, the most important of which is that if, after negotiations fail, you find the studio coming out with a similar film, you have proof that you had the story earlier.

    If this "writer" had taken this basic precaution, he'd still have his screenplay today. Incidentally, AFAIK it costs no more to lodge a CD in the same envelope as your hard copy. A small price to pay for an off-site backup.


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