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Script Registration

The Script Registration Service is open to anyone for original written

works, establishing date priority of ownership of original written works.


Scripts, screenplays, treatments, proposals for TV, Film, New Media, Plays, Documentary are the most commonly registered works. Reciprocal recognition with all members of the International Affiliation of Writers Guilds (IAWG).

What is the cost of registering a work with NZWG?

NZWG members - $35

Non-members - $70

What is the purpose of the registration service?

The NZWG Registration Service has been set up to assist writers to establish the completion dates of literary works.   It is similar to the various script registration services run by other Writers Guilds.

The aim of registration is to prove priority of ownership and priority of ownership cannot necessarily be proved if the material is sent out before it is registered.  Therefore, registration is most effective if completed before the work is sent to another party.


What are the benefits of registration?

Registration provides a record of the writer’s claim to authorship of the work and records the date of registration.  This is in effect a warning that you will not tolerate any infringement of your work.

If there is any infringement of your copyright, registration provides independent proof of your claim to authorship.  If necessary the Guild may produce the registration record for official purposes (in a court proceedings or copyright dispute for example).  However, note that the Guild cannot afford to take legal action for writers.

What can I register?

Any written material.  The most common material registered are scripts, treatments and series proposals but writers have also registered novels, short stories, poems, lyrics and more.

It is helpful to remember that there is no copyright protection for an idea, only the expression of that idea.  For this reason the Guild will only accept developed ideas for registration.  For example, a one paragraph explanation outlining your idea for a  TV series or film will not be accepted.  It is in your interests to develop any idea as fully as possible (into a proposal, treatment or script) before registering.

Who can register?

Anyone can register their own work.  In the case of joint authors any one of the authors can make the registration.  Authors must register the work in their real names, pseudonyms are not acceptable.

Anyone can register someone else’s work (eg. a producer may register the work on behalf of a writer).  The key is that the writer is named as the author or creator of the work (even if they are not the rightsholder of the work).

How does registering relate to copyright?*

* also see Copyright page

Registration does not take the place of copyright nor does it guarantee copyright protection or establish copyright ownership.

Copyright exits in all original works from the moment they are created and recorded in some form.  Copyright is the right to prevent copying.  It does not protect the basic idea but rather the form and expression of that idea.

In order to be able to take advantage of the protection that copyright can offer, the writer may be required to establish the material form of the work in which copyright is claimed and date that work was created.  The greatest difficulty is in protecting an unpublished, unperformed or unproduced work.

This is where registration of work with an independent party, such as the NZWG, is of value.  It provides a record of the writer(s) claim to authorship of the written material involved by recording the date of registration.

How long does registration last?

Registration with the NZWG is valid for ten years.  It may be renewed for an additional ten years if, before the expiration of the first ten year period, a request for renewal is received with the then applicable fee.

What happens when my registration expires?

At the time of registration or renewal you authorise the Guild to destroy the material without future notice to you on the expiration of the first term (ten years) or any renewal period.

What happens after registration?

Upon registration the NZWG will send you a registration receipt.  This is your official proof of registration and contains your unique registration number.  If you need to contact the NZWG about your registration please quote that number.

If I change the work do I need to re-register it?

If you have originally registered a treatment and now have a completed script then registration of that new work may prove useful. However, if all you have done is a new draft of the script then we advise that re-registration isn’t necessary (the original script will prove your claim of authorship).

If you do choose to re-register the work then it counts as a brand new registration and a new fee is payable.  The Guild cannot substitute one draft for another.

How do I use the registration number?

To notify anyone receiving a copy of the registered work that it has been registered with the NZWG type 'NZWG Registration No [insert your registration number]' on the title page of the work.

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