Copyright: How can the idea of a television programme be protected?

How can the idea of a television programme be protected?

It is not easy protecting the idea of a television programme, more over for who does not work inside the world of communication. There is not, even if there should be, any specific regulation protecting these creations, and we attempt to apply regulations of the law on copyright, according to which these ”ideas” could not be protected, whilst the actual acts where these ideas are manifested in can be shielded.

In the case of television programmes, above all the ones where a fundamental role is played by the participation of a guest or competitors, the line between protected work and unprotected work is very fine. What is protected is the so called “format” representing the project, the structure of a television programme, so intended as the sequence of events, scenes, gags, choice of the set, the type of presenter and all those details making the programme new and original. Only this can be protected, therefore if we make a programme on UFOS and we arrange it in a certain way, we could not prevent others making a programme on the same subject and varying some basic aspects.

For these reasons it is very difficult selling the idea of a programme, as, once revealed the solution, many variations could be made without causing any infringements. The difficulty of claiming your own rights involves that, whilst there is a kind of reciprocal “respect” between the workers in this field, on the basis of which formats are bought and sold, in practice it is very, very difficult that a television channel will buy programmes by a private person.

Personally, it does not occur to me that this has ever happened, whilst it has occurred several times that some people have sent their ideas of programmes and then we have seen similar programmes on those same channels. I don’t like discouraging creativity, but it is a very difficult field to conquer for a private person. What can be done, before presenting your own idea, is writing out in a precise manner the programme format and deposit it at the SIAE, perhaps together with a serial of variations, then go to the television channels highlighting the deposit done and the rights which we can claim.