I have an opportunity to produce a TV pilot episode. I've been working with the writer who created the series and characters and has been developing them for several years through short stories on a blog, an illustrated novel (never published), twitter account(s), etc. Basically a lot of written mediums except film. When she decided to turn it into a TV series, she co-wrote the pilot with another writer without contracts.
She does not want the co-writer to have any ownership in the series, but is okay with sharing ownership for the pilot because he did co-write it.
I have a few questions to protect myself before moving forward:
1. Does co-writing the pilot episode of the series give the co-writer any legal rights to the entire series? She did not create a series bible or anything to my knowledge and did not copyright anything.
2. Is it possible for the writer to maintain full rights to the series, but share rights with the co-writer for a single episode?
3. Is the writer legally able to give me the rights to create the series and use the characters without being contested from the co-writer?
1 Answer from Attorneys
This CAN be done but it would have to be done by written agreement with the co-writer.
The issue with the series is that it is a derivative work having been based on the initial pilot episode thereby giving rights to the co-author.
In order to prevent a big battle over it at a later date when it is (hopefully very successful), now is the time BEFORE proceeding to establish the relative rights between the parties.
Let me know if you would like to discuss.
Attorney at law
Licensed Cal. Talent Agent
The foregoing answer is for educational purposes only, NOT legal advice. No attorney-client relationship with JCD is established without a written agreement for that purpose.