Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How can I protect my format?
In the absence of clear legal guidelines, the courts have been reluctant to uphold claims of copyright infringement as applied to television formats — even in those instances where such infringement would seem to be flagrant and blatant.
A claim to the ownership of a format must be made using the law of copyright. While the format trade assumes that intellectual property (IP) rights exist in formats, this assumption is disputed in law. Consequently, protection for formats will remain an issue while format theft remains a risk — and FRAPA will continue to fight for the acknowledgement of format protection.
FRAPA strongly recommends that TV format proposals are registered with the FRAPA Paper Format Registry and/or the FRAPA Digital Online Registry.
Why should I register my format proposal?
FRAPA always recommends the registration of format proposals. It provides credible evidence that your work existed the moment you created it. The best evidence that you created a format concept is a signed declaration by a neutral third-party custodian, who swears that they received your manuscript on a certain date and has kept it in seclusion ever since. This is what registration with the FRAPA Paper Format Registry (available only to FRAPA members) or the FRAPA Digital Online Registry accomplishes.
How does the FRAPA Digital Online Registry work?
It is quick and easy to register your creative work with the FRAPA Digital Online Format Registry. Follow these simple steps:
- Log in and complete the online form.
- Purchase registration credits at the log-in page by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. This e-mail address is protected from spambots. You will be asked to enter your name and FRAPA membership number. Enter the password ‘Registry’ and you will receive your Member Discount Code immediately. Download the registration application software from the log-in page, unzip and install.
- Start the registration application software and proceed to register.
- Use your user name/password combination to confirm your identity when registering your files.
- If you are in possession of a Personal Digital Certificate, you may use this for identity verification instead of the user-name/password option. The FRAPA Digital Online Registry does not issue digital certificates, but these are available on request.
Is registration with the FRAPA confidential?
Yes. No data, names or addresses are passed on to any party for commercial use.
What are the advantages of referring disputes to mediation?
The format industry is characterised by fierce competition, which easily gives rise to disputes. These disagreements very often relate to the unauthorised use of formats owned by third parties and can be difficult to resolve in court because of the differences in relevant national laws.
FRAPA provides mediation between parties involved in disputes arising out of claims of format plagiarism. Alternative dispute resolution services, such as mediation and arbitration, are designed to save parties involved in commercial disputes both time and money.
Mediation consists of negotiation between disputants carried out with the assistance of a neutral intermediary. It attempts to reach consensus between the parties involved. The disputants remain in control over both the process and the outcome. Confidentiality serves to encourage frankness and openness by reassuring the parties that any admissions, proposals or offers of settlement will have no consequences beyond the mediation process. In other words, they cannot be used in subsequent litigation.
Mediation helps format-owners, producers and broadcasters to stay out of court by resolving format disputes at their source. An obvious benefit of mediation is that both parties can continue with their business relationships.
Since 2009, FRAPA has been co-operating with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Arbitration and Mediation Center. Based in Geneva, Switzerland, this specialist UN agency was established in 1994 to offer Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) options, in particular arbitration and mediation, for the resolution of international commercial disputes between private parties.
What sort of formats can be registered?
FRAPA strongly advises the registration of all of your creative work — treatments, scripts, outlines, development documents, tender submissions, storylines, artwork and synopses — as soon as possible after conception. Creative work can be registered in (almost) every format with the FRAPA Digital Online Format Registry. When registering, it is advisable to include as much detail as possible.