Sunday, November 28, 2010

Day 85 - Amazon Studios Flatters Frey's Novel Factory

Well, they do say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

Amazon, deciding that it shouldn't just be for conmen to screw over overly-enthusiastic and desperate creative types, has come up with its own version that doesn't stop at writers but encompasses wannabe film-makers, actors and animators.

Basically, it's a free contest. The prize money is, for most of us average people, a lot of money. You put your work on the site, people read it, edit it (getting a co-writer credit in the process) and, hopefully, a director likes it enough to make an entire test movie. Then it goes through a competition process, and if it wins you get something.

Otherwise? I hope you didn't want all those rights you just signed away.

If you are considering putting something up on Amazon Studios, I would really urge you to go and read the Development Agreement very carefully.

The problems, as I see it, are these:

1) Amazon state outright they don't hold with any of that union/guild minimum pay nonsense.

2) If you write a script and it wins, the money is split between you and anyone else who edited it. An unlimited number of people can edit your work.

3) If you make revisions to someone else's script, you retain absolutely no rights to any of the content you provided - however point 2 is a good thing for you.

This last point is important.

4) The entire of clause 6 - 'Grant of Rights from You to Amazon' - made me die a little inside. You are agreeing to give Amazon a 'worldwide, royalty-free, non-terminable, sub-licensable, transferable right' to:

...copy, use, edit, add to, modify and otherwise alter any Original Property you contribute to Amazon Studios and to create, develop and produce derivative works based on the Original Property on and off of Amazon Studios in the form of treatments, screenplays, writer's pitches, trailers, videos and other written, audio or audiovisual works...

That's right. They can take your idea and do whatever they want with it. Also? Even after the 18 month exclusive window you give them, they can still use whatever original material you put up to, for example, put out a novelization of your script. And you don't get a penny unless they choose to exercise their option. Which they don't have to.

Because why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?

Word count - 3,286

PS - Thanks to Scott Meyers at Go Into The Story for his post on this.

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