In episode five of Scriptnotes, Craig and I dive deep into the esoterica of the WGA, copyright and separated rights as prelude to a discussion of two ongoing lawsuits: Jessica Bendinger vs. the Bring It On musical and Harlan Ellison vs. In Time.
Most installments of the podcast are very back-and-forth, but this is a case where Craig simply knows a lot more than I do, and can explain it better, so I shut up and let Professor Mazin do the talking.
The truth is, most screenwriters never need to worry about the vagaries of copyright and labor law that make our professions possible
the same way cinematographers don't need to know the exact chemical formulations of developing baths, and gaffers don't worry about the overall power grid for Southern California.
But it's still good to be aware of the issues affecting your part of the industry, because small disruptions can ultimately have big consequences. In particular, I'm worried that a string of copyright-infringement cases could lead to situations analogous to the patent warfare happening in technology.
UPDATE 9-28-11: The transcript of this episode can be found here.