Can you copyright a concept?

21 replies [Last post]
Nintembo
Offline
Joined: Jun 22 2004

Is it possible to copyright a concept?

I have just finished post production on a programme where we interview music stars who come into the country, giving them a little chapter each.

Nothing like this has ever been done before.

Is it possible to copyright this concept?

fuddam
Offline
Joined: Nov 19 2005

no

MAGLINK
Offline
Joined: Mar 8 2007

Nope it has already been stolen by posting it here:D

Nah sorry scrub that mainstream will still be doing the same old pap for the next ten years!

Sell it to SKY they like new ideas:eek:

Chrome
Offline
Joined: May 26 1999
Nintembo wrote:
...we interview music stars who come into the country, giving them a little chapter each.

This must require some patience... y'know all that hanging around at air and sea ports waiting for them to turn up? :D

I'm sure Fuddams right, but if you really did want to attempt to copyright a specific idea, rather than a concept, you would certainly need to be highly specific with a precise description of the idea. Your description given in your question, is so ambiguous it could be interpreted far too many different ways. But if you're concept is holding interviews with musicians visiting the UK from abroad, then I fail to see the uniqueness of this concept. There have been dozens of TV music shows (and other non-music shows) that do something similar to this... perhaps they did not put them onto a chaptered DVD, but that is only the distribution medium. Am I missing something unique in the idea? :confused:

Gyr
Offline
Joined: Jan 17 2005

It's not really my field but I believe some TV shows are copyright (eg Big Brother, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, The Weakest Link), but I've no idea how specific the concept has to be. I do remember reading somewhere that the late Roy Plomley was quite astute in copyrighting the concept for Desert Island Discs.

DAVE M
Offline
Joined: May 17 1999

and there was "trouble" when I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue went live - the BBC insisted that the show was theirs, the particuipants didn't agree

Alan Roberts
Alan Roberts's picture
Offline
Joined: May 3 1999

Roy Plomley was so cute about this that it's still one of the few programmes that you still can't download.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Nintembo
Offline
Joined: Jun 22 2004

And on the subject of legal issues (I thought there was going to be a dedicated part of the forum for the business side of film making - I still think that would be a good idea)

There is an interview I don't have a release form for. Would I be able to put that interview on YouTube? Therefore I wouldn't be making money out of it?

MAGLINK
Offline
Joined: Mar 8 2007
Nintembo wrote:
And on the subject of legal issues (I thought there was going to be a dedicated part of the forum for the business side of film making - I still think that would be a good idea)

There is an interview I don't have a release form for. Would I be able to put that interview on YouTube? Therefore I wouldn't be making money out of it?

No problem but You Tube can then steal it and make money out of it, now is it you that has to handle the clearance or them? My bet is that they make the money and you get the problems!

Chrome
Offline
Joined: May 26 1999

If you haven't got a release or permission from the interviewee to use it, or some form of clearance (in the past I have heard of some people doing it 'to camera' - but not too sure of legal value), you simply can't use it. It's irrelevant whether or not you get any income from it, you can still be sued. :(

Dave R Smith
Offline
Joined: May 10 2005
DAVE M wrote:
and there was "trouble" when I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue went live - the BBC insisted that the show was theirs, the particuipants didn't agree

That could be for reason of the name rather than the concept.
Like Gyr implies, I hear of the 'format' of successful TV shows being sold to the states.

I'm sure U.S. TV companies wouldn'y pay dosh unless they had to.
That as they sell much more than us, it could just be a goodwill gesture so the UK buyers/broadcasters don't rip off their formats for which they no doubt get a healthy income.

I don't know if this down to copyright, branding, agreements amongst broadcaster/programme makers or other form of IP.

Generally anyone who creates something has the IP over that creation, automatically. If 'your creation' is not easily attributable directly to you, you may have trouble enforcing that.

Nintembo - their could be me more to your concept than you have detailed. If there is, then I believe it could provide a revenue stream for you, though you may have to have an established series with audience recognition for you to be so credited with th IP.

I don't know how to procede to protect your interest though - but I'm aware ideas to submission agents are often ripped off!

In the absence of wisdom from a later posting, I'd say approach a legal advisor who specialises in IP under English and US law.

Dave R Smith
Offline
Joined: May 10 2005
Nintembo wrote:
And on the subject of legal issues (I thought there was going to be a dedicated part of the forum for the business side of film making - I still think that would be a good idea)

There is an interview I don't have a release form for. Would I be able to put that interview on YouTube? Therefore I wouldn't be making money out of it?

If people get upset about something and feel so strong they sue, the outcome in unpredictable.
If you trade under your own name e.g. 'Nimtembo t/a abc', then you can be sued for all you've got and lose it. If you form a ltd company, 'ltd' means limited liability and if company was sued it would only stand to lose it's company assets, not assets of it's shareholders. (Unless it was a fraud case).
This is a big legal minefield though. Take any info on this forum as questions you should be thinking about, not the answers. Approach a professional for that.
It's all about risk and managing it.

Nintembo
Offline
Joined: Jun 22 2004

Hmm, valid points. What if the video were to "leak"

Dave R Smith
Offline
Joined: May 10 2005

You carpet gets wet.

cyberwest
Offline
Joined: Sep 13 2000

The point with things like Desert Island Discs and Pop Idol is not that the format is copyright, but the branding. You can't easily use copyright against plagiarism of an idea - the guy who came up with the famous Guinness dancing ad lost in court, for example. There is some law about theatrical presentation, but copyright is mainly about mechanical reproduction of exact copies. Note that Simon Cowell has basically created the same show as Pop Idol with X Factor. The difference is that he owns the branding for X Factor now, and he didn't for Pop Idol. So now he himself is making the dosh, not a company he is part of.

James Morris

MAGLINK
Offline
Joined: Mar 8 2007

And britains got talent (or not in the case of cowells show) is New Faces or Opportunity Knocks re-hashed by the LWT cilla black production dept!

jay morgan
Offline
Joined: Dec 21 2009
Copyrighting Concepts

You cannot copyright a concept, but you can protect it if you can develop it into a script treatment. If you are not familiar with a script treatment, it is a detailed scene-by-scene outline. The Writer's Guild allows you to file a script treatment with them even if you are not a member for a small fee. They keep it on file for a period of ten years which can be renewed. Another way to protect yourself is to document your concept and then send it to yourself as certified mail. Keep it sealed until you need to use it in court. Since it is sealed and time stamped this will at least prove that you had developed the idea by that point in time. Keep in mind that it's very difficult to win a case unless you can prove damages and also be able to demonstrate how the copyright infringer got your concept. Of course, you also need a lot of money to sue so it better be worth it.
anomalymedia.tv

harlequin
harlequin's picture
Offline
Joined: Aug 16 2000
jay morgan wrote:
Another way to protect yourself is to document your concept and then send it to yourself as certified mail. Keep it sealed until you need to use it in court. Since it is sealed and time stamped this will at least prove that you had developed the idea by that point in time.

be careful with copyright info , when you are in a different country to the poster.

sending a letter to yourself as proof of date is not legal in UKbout this. http://forums.dvdoctor.net/archive/index.php/t-483.html << has previous conversations about this.

and here

http://www.scriptonline.net/home_faq.html

Gary MacKenzie

sepulce@hotmail.com ( an account only used for forum messages )

Thinkserver TS140 , 750ti Graphics card  & LG 27" uws led backlight , Edius 8

Humax Foxsat HD Pvr / Humax Fox T2 dvbt

stuart621
Offline
Joined: Oct 24 2001
JGNattrass wrote:
Sell it to SKY they like new ideas:eek:

You think? I can't think I've ever seen anything new on Sky! :)

Bob Aldis
Offline
Joined: Mar 7 2001
stuart621 wrote:
You think? I can't think I've ever seen anything new on Sky! :)

If you substitute "good" for "new" I would agree with you ;)

Bob Aldis

Mark M
Offline
Joined: Nov 17 1999
Alan Roberts wrote:
Roy Plomley was so cute about this that it's still one of the few programmes that you still can't download.

Not any more!
http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/did/
The BBC and Plomley's estate have obviously come to some sort of deal.

Adobe Certified Professional Premiere Pro CS6, Premiere Pro CC

Adobe Community Professional

mooblie
mooblie's picture
Offline
Joined: Apr 27 2001

This must be a recent development: I recall trying to find Desert Island Discs on iPlayer a few weeks ago (and failing) but now, it seems, there will be podcasts...

Martin - DVdoctor in moderation. Everyone is entitled to my opinion.