So Amazon recently formed Amazon Studios and declared it was to give away $2.7 million to new screenwriters and maybe Warner Bros will release their Movie. Deadline report that a growing number of Hollywood scribes are warning wannabes to beware because of problems with copyright, authorship, Amazon Studios' free 18-month option on a writer's work the moment it's uploaded, and rewriting by Amazon readers. Yes thats re-writing by Amazon readers.
Here is a segment from the 21-page Amazon Studios Development Agreement contract all writers who submit have to sign.
Amazon Studios invites filmmakers and screenwriters from all over the world to submit full-length movies and scripts, which will then get feedback from Amazon readers, who will be free to rewrite and amend. Based on reaction (“rate and review”) to stories, scripts and rough “test” films, a panel of judges will award monthly prizes... You agree to be automatically entered into any future contests for which your work is eligible. The specific contest rules for future contests will be posted on this page when they are announced.
Prominent scribe and blogger John August has something to say, he asks this: "Do you really want random people rewriting your script?" Amazon's Studios Development Agreement contract further states:
"Can I make it so that no one else can revise my original work? No. But if someone makes changes that are bad, their version is not likely to get a lot of attention. And if someone comes along and makes your work better, you’re more likely to win a prize and get your project made. Sometimes other people can bring a different viewpoint or a different set of skills that take the story in a new direction or add new elements that make it even more compelling".
Blogger Craig Mazin, whose insights into screenwriting are far better than his own hack scripts [Scary Movie 3 and 4, Superhero Movie] opines that the Amazon Studios scheme "kind of disgusts" him because it's a "bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad" deal. "They put this whole 'Hollywood is old and lame, and we’re the new hotness' vibe out there. In their intro video, their hip spokesman with the spiky haircut is an inclusive, welcoming voice. Hollywood is represented by a fat old Jew at a desk. Funny thing, though. The actual terms of Amazon’s 'studio' are so much worse than those offered by Hollywood studios, it’s grotesque." Mazin worries about the lack of credit protection or residuals: "Warner Bros. could hire a WGA writer under a WGA contract to rewrite the script (if they hire any writer directly at all, it must be under a WGA deal). At that point, the Amazon work becomes source material, and the original writers are not eligible for ANY WGA credit at all. Just a 'based on a screenplay by' credit. The WGA writers – even if they only wrote five words – would be the only writers eligible for WGA credit and residuals."
So if you want to enter a screenplay contest where your work will be re-written by well anybody and your rights are infringed you know where to go.