Registration of TV Formats and the like

The problem of TV formats

Depending on the characteristics of the work, and even the arguments of different jurists, it may be questionable whether a script or television format should be considered a literary or artistic work, and therefore deserve the proper protection of the copyright. For this reason, in cases where the authors or creators of the format of a television program need to go to court to defend their legitimate rights and interests, the legal ground could be based, among others, both on the existing legislation on intellectual property as in that on unfair competition.

In any judicial defense strategy, effective proof of authorship is necessary, so the registration of a script or television format in Safe Creative is a probative element that provides solid protection against plagiarism and usurpations, regardless of the type of work in which a television format or script should be considered.

What should we register so that our TV format has maximum protection?

As we have said, the idea of ​​making a certain program, expressed in a few lines, even a few paragraphs, may not be enough to merit the rights that the copyright laws grant. Therefore, and based on what is known about judgments worldwide, there are developments on the TV format that, if existing, can be a clear advantage for the registrant. In general we can say that the more information and more detailed about the format we are, the better. Below we list some elements that should be ready for the registration but might be many more:

  • Running order / script with the detailed and extensive explanation of the program to be done, including phrases, detailed mechanics, details on lighting, presenters, sections, times, music, setting, etc.
  • Bible Pilot program.
  • Recording of an example of a pilot program: This is one of the best elements we can register in order to achieve the protection granted by law. While it is important to point out that it is not always possible to create a pilot episode with all the production of the final product, it can be emulated in an mockup way, how would that future pilot program be. It is not absolutely necessary to have, for example, professional presenters or, for example, or real contestants, but it can be done, with some actors an accurate staging of an episode.
  • Registration of trademarks and trade names in trademark and patent offices. This is a complementary element to the Safe Creative registration, but it will support the registration.

How Safe Creative works

Safe Creative does not qualify the files it receives. It is limited to generating technological evidence of the existence of said files that contain one or more works. This evidence must be persistent over time and analysable in any part of the world and any legal system. 

It must be possible to demonstrate what existed specifically at what time, what the rights holder declared and that the content has not been altered in any way. That is achieved by binding the hashes of the files together with two redundant timestamps and an audit in blockchain that are altogether consistent. 

To create the rights holder’s evidence, it’s necessary to provide one or several files that allow the generation of the proofs to check in the future what work the owner had access to and what the copyright declaration was made.

Registering a TV format in Safe Creative

Once you have the files with all the information, and always as extensive as possible, such as script, bible, storyboard, pilot or pilot pre-recording, we will store them locally on a computer (it’s always convenient to keep local and redundant backups of all these files). You can register one by one, thus creating several registration proofs each with its independent code, to demonstrate with all of them the ownership of that TV format, or can include them all in a compressed file, type .rar, .zip, or similar, to create a single registration code and thus have a single proof for the whole work. The compressed file can optionally be password protected.

Steps to register a file. Repeat if there are several files to register:

1.- Enter Safe Creative (it is advisable to have a professional account or hire the specific professional services for each registration). 

2.- Go to “Register” and select the type of work. It is best to choose, regardless of the file format (text, audio, video), “Audiovisual – TV Format”.

3.- Add the file using the button, or drag it from the desktop. Hit “continue.”

4.- In step 2 include an indicative name and optional description, if the registration is going to be public or not, labels that will allow you to find the work when searching for it, etc. and, most importantly, mark the declaration of “all rights reserved”. Click on “Next.”

5.- In step 3, indicate what type of rights you voluntarily declare for the work, as “Authorship”. Hit “register” if everything is final, or “save as draft” if you still want to make any changes to the record.

6.- Once registered you can choose several actions, such as downloading certificates and proofs to locally save them, change thumbnail image, add labels, etc. The registration will be accessible from “My records” for future reference and actions.

With the test created, you will have a link type that allows third parties to access, if the registry is public, basic information of the registration. 

It is advisable, whenever information about the format is communicated to third parties, to include either the numerical registration code next to a text saying “Registered in Safe Creative …” or the public information link of the record. It can be included next to or in the file itself, emails, presentations, videos, etc. To send emails certifying the sending (to whom it is sent, when and what), we recommend using tools like the ones of Safe Stamper with Safe Creative’s technology.

In case of legal conflict, you will have a previous proof in the time you had access to the specific TV format that the other party cannot have if you made the registration before communicating it to anybody or any project.

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