Q & A
Interview Copyright Issues
One of our authors has
submitted a book containing lengthy transcripts of previously
unpublished interviews conducted in the 1960s. The location
and existence of the interviewees are unknown, and there are no written
interview releases. How can the book be registered for
-- submitted by the
publisher of an independent press
Unfortunately, if the
author does not have a valid transfer of copyright from the
interviewees, she cannot claim ownership in the material.
Under the most recent revision of the Copyright Act in 1976, all works
originally created before January 1, 1978, but not published or
registered by that date, have been automatically brought under the
statute and are now given federal copyright protection. The duration of
copyright in these works is generally computed in the same way as for
works created on or after January 1, 1978: the life of the author plus
70 years. By contrast, if the interviews had been published
before January 1, 1978, they are governed by the 1909 copyright law.
Under that law, if a work was published under the copyright owner's
authority without a proper notice of copyright, all copyright
protection for that work was permanently lost in the United States, and
the interviews would be in the public domain.
The fact that your
author doesn't have ownership in the interview, however, is not
necessarily fatal. She still could claim copyright in the work as a
"compilation," which the Copyright Office defines as "a work formed by
the collection and assembling of preexisting materials or of data that
are selected, coordinated, or arranged in such a way that the resulting
work as a whole constitutes an original work of authorship." You would
do this by completing section 6 of Form TX. A single copyright notice
applicable to the collective work as a whole serves to indicate
protection for all the contributions in the collective work regardless
of the ownership of copyright in the individual contributions and
whether they have been published previously.
. . .
The Reel Deal
So You Want To Be In Pictures?
every writer's fantasy -- Hollywood buys your story and before you know
it, you're watching your name roll down the credits of a summer
blockbuster. Likely? Of course not. Nevertheless,
the chances of your work being considered for film or television might
be greater than you think -- if you know the ropes.
and television producers acquire their properties from novels,
nonfiction books, short stories, newspaper and periodical
articles. Most writers believe that a novel is their best
chance of selling to Hollywood, and in the case of the bestseller, it's
true. Bestsellers have a built-in audience and (usually) a
fully developed story full of strong suspense and characterization
-- the studio need merely bring in a screenwriter, hire Tom
Hanks or Julia Roberts, and rake in the cash.
for Hollywood, there just aren’t enough suitable
bestsellers to supply all the studios, not to mention the television
and cable networks. Studio producers and development
executives are forced to look elsewhere for good film properties,
primarily relying on agents to submit material. Producers
also scan book trade publications like Publisher's Weekly, publisher's
catalogs, and the book review sections of major newspapers.
Some studios even pay editors and readers at publishing houses to tip
them off when they see a suitable property.
especially look for compelling real life stories, often published in
magazine articles or newspaper features. These often become
very successful movies. Remember Top Gun? The
producer, Jerry Bruckheimer, got the idea from a magazine article about
the true-life Top Gun naval air school. Many recent releases, such as
The Perfect Storm, Erin Brockovich, A Civil Action, The Insider, and
The Hurricane, were based on real-life events or stories.
say you have published a novel, book, or magazine article that might
make a good movie. How do you sell it? . . .
. . .