As Writers Crowdsource Jobs, Some Could Land a Lawsuit Instead
Art Law

As Writers Crowdsource Jobs, Some Could Land a Lawsuit Instead

Illustration by: Zohar Lazar Every legal dust-up deserves a killer hashtag. As the war between the Writers Guild of America and big talent agencies stretches into its second month, there’s now #WGAStaffingBoost, meant to help connect writers to jobs now that agents have been fired amid a dispute over TV packaging fees. Under the new regime, established writers volunteer to read material from up-and-comers, and after spotting the next Aaron Sorkin, recommend them for jobs. Such comity! Perhaps this is a revolutionary breakthrough and an existential threat to agents. In a filing to go public May 23, WME owner Endeavor listed WGA strife as a risk factor alongside Brexit and athlete clients breaking their necks. But some attorneys are questioning whether writers should be circulating their scripts so freely, lest a fellow guild member decide to steal material. "Are there possible legal issues?" asks entertainment litigator Larry Zerner. "Of course. I once brought a lawsuit on behalf of a writer whose unpublished book had been turned almost verbatim into a television series. How did the show’s ‘creator’ get a copy of my client’s book? They were both in a writers group 20 years earlier where everyone in the group […]

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