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Protecting Your Ideas Against Theft

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Many aspiring authors cling to their manuscripts, afraid to show them to the world, out of fear that their ideas will be stolen. A post today on GalleyCat directly addresses this fear.

There is a perception that “mammoth-sized Hollywood studios that are scowling through their slush piles concocting plans to steal hot ideas from struggling writers,” states Jeff Rivera, the other of the post. So the website went to publishing attorney Lloyd J. Jassin what aspiring authors should do to keep major players from pillaging their ideas during the submission process. Check out the post for Jassin’s response.

My own, admittedly non-legal, non-professional understanding of copyright was that you can not secure the basic ideas but you can secure the execution of those ideas. For example, you can write about a boy at a school for wizards or about teenage vampires or about a young lawyer trapped in a shady firm. That’s how all these copycat books pop up and try to cash in on successful titles. But you can’t write about the specifics of that school for wizards (using the same names, same plot devices, same descriptions, etc) because that’s copyrighted material.