I dread reading a screenplay every time I'm asked to sign an NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement) by a writer wanting me to read their work.
I've signed five NDAs in the last three months and four have been totally unnecessary. So why do people get so paranoid their idea might be talked about and stolen when they really don't have anything to worry about? What do they think I'm going to do read their script and think 'by Margret Thatcher's balls that's a brilliant script, I'm going to steal it and make my fortune?' As if!
The WGGB suggest you simply put a little © by your name on the title page and leave it at that and I agree. There is no need for NDAs because anyone who wants a long and successful career in the business WILL NOT steal your work! If they did their career would be over the instant word got out. No one would want to touch them...NO ONE!
I could understand if the people in question were Hollywood writers with
potential blockbusters on their hands (not that they would come to me
anyway), or production companies with a project nearly ready to go, but
why do new writers in this country insist on having a reader sign an NDA
before they send out their script? And I have to be brutally honest here, it's usually the average scripts that come with the NDAs, the ones that don't have a killer plot worth talking about in the first place. That's not to say I haven't seen some very well written screenplays after I've signed an NDA.
Besides you can't protect an idea. Once you've written a screenplay it's your intellectual property by law, but the idea can still be written in a different way, with different characters by someone else. I can guarantee that while you're coming up with your unique blockbuster of an idea there are hundreds of other people, maybe even thousands, having the exact same idea at the exact same time. As if to prove this point earlier in the year someone pitched me an idea for a TV series to see if I thought it was any good, then last month I read the EXACT same idea had been made into a Hollywood film and was due for release soon.
So if anyone is reading this and is thinking of sending me their screenplay to read, don't ask me to sign an NDA before hand, it's not needed...honest!