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According to the Writer’s Guild of America West, registering your work with them may not take the place of registering it with the Library of Congress – U.S. Copyright Office, but both create valid legal evidence that can be used in court. What the service offers is an official time stamp of your work from a neutral (and highly respected) third-party. You can do this in various ways, of course, but if you’ve always wondered about registering your work with the WGA, here’s the skinny: Registration is only $20 per project, and you can do it online.  Your submission will be given a unique digital code, and it is recommended that you keep a copy of your exact submission on file. I say save it and then back it up! It’s best you have a copy of precisely what you sent in for you records. After that, you can go crazy with revisions and whatnot in a new file. Don’t worry, you’re still protected as long as you’ve got that concept time stamped and registered.  But be aware that once submitted, you can’t review what you’ve put on file unless you’ve request it officially. You can send a letter to the WGA-W office in Los Angeles via fax or regular mail along with a copy of your photo ID. Why? Only the writers attached to your work have access to what you have registered. Not even the Guild can look at it without your permission.

But what if you don’t write screenplays or you’ve started one but aren’t quite finished? That’s okay. The Writer’s Guild takes screenplays, treatments, outlines, pitches, even notes and concepts. They also register books, animation, art, documentaries, plays, scenes, comedy sketches, teleplays, tv pilots, lyrics, stories and poems.  I’m sharing this information because I never really looked deeply into it until today and found it quite valuable. Perhaps you will too.

Updated 4/25/14 to add: Your registration will be kept on file for five years and ensure you legal evidence of your time stamp for that amount of time. I recommend registering your works-in-progress, concepts or drafts then when you feel all is polished, shiny and new, get that copyright seal slapped on officially.

*Source – Writer’s Guild of America West Registry, http://www.wgawregistry.org/Image

If you’d like to request already submitted material use:

WGAW Registry, 7000 W. Third Street, L.A. CA, 90048 or fax at (323) 782-4803.

If interested in getting an official copyright for your work, go to:

 http://www.copyright.gov.

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