Frequently Asked Questions

ONLINE REGISTRATION
What can be registered online?
What happens if I accidentally upload a virus?
When registering online, what is my "Document to Register"?
What file formats can I submit via online registration?
How do I know if my file is completely uploaded?
How can I make sure my file opens and is readable?
Can I register multiple files during my online transaction?
Do I need to attach my title page to my online registration?
Will my personal information be sold or provided to organizations outside the WGA?
Will I get Guild-related mail if I register with the Guild?
My credit card was charged twice for a single registration. What should I do?

PURPOSE OF REGISTRATION
Do I have to be a member of the Guild to register my material with the WGAW Registry?
Do I have to live in the western U.S. to register my material with the WGAW Registry?
Why should I register my material?
What does the registration fee cover?

COPYRIGHT AND CREDITS
Does registration take the place of copyright?
If I've already registered my material with the U.S. Copyright Office in Washington, do I need to register it with the Guild?
Does registration protect titles?
Does registration help in determining writing credits?
Can registered material be added to or updated?

ACCESS TO MATERIAL
Who has access to registered material or submissions?
How do I gain access to my registered material or information?
How do I get copies of my registered work?
Can material be withdrawn or removed from the Registry?
Do members of the Guild staff look at the material being registered?

REGISTRATION RENEWAL
Will I be reminded when it's time for my material to be renewed?
How do I renew my registration?
What happens if I don't renew my registration?

SECURITY AND STORAGE
Is the WGAW online registration service the same as other online registration services?
Are files submitted like e-mail attachments?
How is my material stored?


ONLINE REGISTRATION

What can be registered online?

Any file may be registered to assist you in documenting the creation of your work. Some examples of registerable material include scripts, treatments, synopses, outlines, and written ideas specifically intended for radio, television and film, video cassettes/discs, or interactive media. The WGAW Registry also accepts stageplays, novels and other books, short stories, poems, commercials, lyrics, drawings, music and other media work.

What happens if I accidentally upload a virus?

Files containing viruses are not accepted by the online registration system. Registrants attempting to register online with a file containing a virus will be notified to clean the file and try the online transaction again. If the file cannot be cleaned, the Registry suggests submitting your material by mail or in person. Any credit card charges from virus-laden transactions are reversed within three business days.

When registering online, what is my "Document to Register"?

During the online registration process, you will be prompted to browse and select the file you wish to have registered. The file you select during this process will be uploaded in its entirety once you click on the "Register This Item" button. You must click on the "open" button; filenames cannot be typed in the filename field.

What file formats can I submit via online registration?

Our preferred formats are ASCII text, PDF (Adobe Acrobat), Microsoft Word files, Final Draft and Movie Magic Screenwriter 2000; however, all file formats will be accepted. The ASCII and Microsoft Word formats are widely used and will likely be accessible indefinitely in the future. The Final Draft format is well known in the industry, and there is a free and widely available reader for these files. Also, the makers of Final Draft have contracted with a third-party software escrow company to assure that versions of their software will be available in the future, providing you assurance that your Final Draft format file will be accessible in the future.

In addition, other screenplay software and standard computer file formats are acceptable. For example, graphics files in .tiff, .jpg, or other popular formats may be used to register work.

Note: We do not recommend locking your file with a password. We will accept any file format within our file size limitation of 10 MB. Bear in mind, however, that you retain the responsibility to provide software to open and read files we might provide you as a duplication or for use in a legal proceeding in the future. The WGAW expressly disclaims any responsibility for maintaining software to open or read any of the files we accept for deposit.

How do I know if my file is completely uploaded?

Files are uploaded in their entirety once the confirmation page appears. Otherwise, an error message indicating problems with the upload would appear. Files are not partially uploaded in any event.

How can I make sure my file opens and is readable?

The Registry does not open uploaded files, as the primary purpose of registration is to establish the completion date of your original work. Once the material is submitted, we take possession of the file as evidence of that particular version.

Can I register multiple files during my online transaction?

Only one file for each online registration request is accepted. Currently the file size limit is 10 MB. Zip files are prohibited. Make certain you are uploading the correct file and version of your material. All registrations are final upon submission and cannot be changed, substituted, or voided.

Do I need to attach my title page to my online registration?

The title page is used primarily to gather information regarding the material when it is brought in or sent by mail to our office. When registering online, the required information is gathered as the online form is filled out.

Will my personal information be sold or provided to organizations outside the WGA?

Unless you designate otherwise, your personal information will be kept confidential by the Registry and will not be disclosed to outside organizations for any purpose.

Will I get Guild-related mail if I register with the Guild?

The Registry does not conduct mass mailings of registration or non-registration literature. All of your personal information is kept in the strictest of confidence.

My credit card was charged twice for a single registration. What should I do?

If you were charged twice for a single registration, e-mail us or call (323) 782-4500.

Back to Top

PURPOSE OF REGISTRATION

Do I have to be a member of the Guild to register my material with the WGAW Registry?

No. You can register material with the WGAW Registry regardless of whether or not you are a member. Registration of material has no effect whatsoever on your eligibility for membership in the Guild. Go to our Join the Guild page for information regarding rules for admission.

Do I have to live in the western U.S. to register my material with the WGAW Registry?

No. You can register material with the WGAW Registry regardless of where you live.

Why should I register my material?

The registration process places preventative measures against plagiarism or unauthorized use of an author's material. While someone else may have the same storyline or idea in his or her material, your evidence lies in your presentation of your work. Registering your work does not disallow others from having a similar storyline or theme. Rather, registering your work would potentially discourage others from using your work without your permission.

Though the Registry cannot prevent plagiarism, it can produce the registered material as well as confirm the date of registration. Registering your work creates legal evidence for the material that establishes a date for the material's existence. The WGAW Registry, as a neutral third party, can testify for that evidence.

What does the registration fee cover?

The registration fee provides five years of legal evidence for your material. It also helps maintain the overhead for the department, including the maintenance of the confidential facility where the material is stored for its five-year term.

Back to Top

COPYRIGHT AND CREDITS

Does registration take the place of copyright?

Registering your work with the WGAW Registry does not take the place of registering with the Library of Congress, U.S. Copyright Office. However, both create valid legal evidence that can be used in court.

Questions regarding copyright should be directed to the U.S. Copyright Office in Washington, D.C. at (202) 707-3000 or to an attorney specializing in that area of law. Click on www.loc.gov for more information.

If I've already registered my material with the U.S. Copyright Office in Washington, do I need to register it with the Guild?

Even if you have copyright through the Library of Congress, registering with the WGAW Registry creates a separate legal record for your material. In addition, you may consider registering treatments or drafts of your work-in-progress with our Registry prior to registering your final draft with the Copyright Office.

Does registration with the Writers Guild protect titles?

Titles are not registered with the WGAW Registry, as they are not protected by registration. The title or filename is mainly used to identify material within specific registrant records. The Registry does not make comparisons of titles or record title changes for registered material. Title changes do not require re-registration of material.

You may wish to contact the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office regarding the use or registration of a title. They can be contacted directly at (800) 786-9199 or through their website at www.uspto.gov.

Does registration help in determining writing credits?

Generally, no. However, if there is a dispute as to authorship or sequencing of material by date, then registration may be relevant. Questions concerning the WGA credit determination procedures should be directed to the Credits department at (323) 782-4528. Or click here for more information: Credits Survival Guide.

Can registered material be added to or updated?

The primary purpose of registration is to establish the completion date of your original work. Once material is registered, the file cannot be changed in any way. New drafts should be registered when significant additions have been made.

Back to Top

ACCESS TO MATERIAL

Who has access to registered material or submissions?

Only the listed author(s) may request access to records or information pertaining to registered material. All requests must be in writing from authors regarding their own work and must be accompanied by photo identification. Requests may be submitted by mail, facsimile, or delivered in person.

How do I gain access to my registered material or information?

Requests for specific information regarding your completed records must be accompanied by photo ID. You may send your written request and photocopy of your ID to WGAW Registry, 7000 W. Third Street, L.A. CA, 90048 or directly to our office by fax at (323) 782-4803.

How do I get copies of my registered material?

For the current rate of registration, copies of material may be purchased upon written request by one or more of the listed authors, identified by photo ID. In the event an author is deceased, proof of death and consent of the representative of the heir(s) and/or estate must be presented in order to obtain a copy of the material.

Duplications of material submitted in-person or by mail are photocopied and available for pick-up or sent via certified mail approximately two weeks from when the request is made. Duplications of material submitted online is burned onto a CD and available for pick-up or can be sent via certified mail approximately one week from when the request is made.

In no event, except under these provisions, shall any deposited material, copies of deposited material, or information regarding deposited material be provided unless an official guild action, court order, or other legal process has been served.

Can material be withdrawn or removed from the Registry?

Deposited material cannot be returned to the writer without defeating the purpose of registration. It is therefore important to always retain a separate copy of the material being registered. However, one or more of the listed authors, identified by photo ID, may purchase copies.

Do members of the Guild staff look at the material being registered?

No, only the registrant or listed author(s) may request access to records or information pertaining to registered material. All requests must be in writing from the author regarding his/her own work and must be accompanied by a valid photo ID. Registry staff may review the contents of some registrations to ensure compliance with our policies, but they do not read submissions for content.

Back to Top

REGISTRATION RENEWAL

Will I be reminded when it's time for my material to be renewed?

This responsibility rests with the author. However, if an author presents a valid photo ID, registration records can be reviewed to determine the expiration date.

How do I renew my registration?

Registration may be renewed three months before the expiration date and up to three months after the expiration date. Registration cannot be renewed online -- only in person, by mail, or by fax paid with Visa/MasterCard.

It is not necessary to send a duplicate copy of material when renewing within the registration renewal period. You may request renewal in writing by providing the registration number and renewal fee. The renewal fee is the current registration rate.

What happens if I don't renew my registration?

Registration is valid for a five-year period. Once you submit material for registration, you authorize the Guild to destroy the manuscript without notice to you upon expiration of five years from the effective date. Material that is not renewed is destroyed and purged from our possession. Once material is destroyed, the Registry will not be able to submit your work as evidence to any Guild-related or legal proceedings.

Back to Top

SECURITY AND STORAGE

Is the WGAW online registration service the same as other online registration services?

While other online registration systems serve valid purposes, they primarily act as a timestamp or hash-coding mechanism only. Files are reduced to a digitally assigned number, which is the only means of identifying a particular work. As an author, you must maintain an untouched file of your work. The WGAW online registration service takes possession of your file, which alleviates the burden of file maintenance. Online registration serves the same purpose as hardcopy registration. With the stability of 75 years of registration service, the WGAW remains a neutral third party and will submit your work as evidence to any Guild-related or legal proceedings.

Uploaded files are not opened or read by anyone; they are hashed with a digital code and zipped by Surety®, the leading provider of tamper proof data integrity solutions. Files are then manually stored in two separate electronic forms.

Are files submitted like e-mail attachments?

That method of transmission is not considered secure enough by the WGAW Registry to be used for registration submissions. Files are transferred directly to us. The upload is originated at the user's PC and will arrive at the WGA Registry's server. In mere moments your material is secure behind our firewall. Uploaded data does not reside on an intermediate server waiting to be picked up by the WGAW.

How is my material stored?

Material that is mailed or hand-delivered is sealed in a registration envelope immediately. We do not read, microfilm, scan, or view the documents; it remains in exactly the same form as submitted to us. Your material is then stored in a secure depository where only the registration staff and the depository custodian have access. Material submitted online is stored in a non-rewritable digital format in a secure location.

Back to Top

If you have other questions, click here to contact the Registry or call (323) 782-4500.