Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Did Letterman's Alleged Blackmailer Register The "Screenplay?"

This morning The Today Show aired a piece on the alleged bribery of David Letterman by Robert Halderman. Halderman's attorney Gerald Shargel made an extremely novel and interesting argument. Mr. Shargel stated that Halderman was merely offering Letterman the first opportunity to buy a "screenplay" that included alleged damaging information about Letterman's private life. Halderman purportedly offered to sell Letterman the "screenplay" for $2,000,000.

Mr. Shargel's argument might be a winning one if some of the following questions were first answered: Did Halderman register his "screenplay" with the U.S. Copyright Office? How about the Writer's Guild? What type of social media promotion plan did Halderman have to promote his project if Letterman did not want to buy it? Was Halderman shopping his "screenplay" around to any other potential buyers?

It costs $35 to register a work online with the U.S. Copyright Office and at most $22 to register a work with the Writers Guild of America East. If Halderman registered his "screenplay" with either of these organizations his argument that he was merely offering Letterman a first crack at his work may be successful. However, if the "screenplay" was not registered, I do not believe that the argument his attorney mentioned this morning will be a winning one. If this purported screenplay had widespread commercial value Halderman would have taken the steps necessary to protect his intellectual property.

Copyright 2009 by the Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC. All rights reserved.

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