Non-Disclosure Agreements-why you probably don't need them by Paige Gold Washington DC Based Entertainment Lawyer

Non-Disclosure Agreements-why you probably don't need them
Total posts: 245
Joined: 14 year(s) ago
Posted 12:25 AM Feb. 20, 2015

I'm an entertainment lawyer, and I'm routinely asked to help people with nondisclosure agreements for projects they’re pitching. I received yet another request this morning, so I thought it might be useful to briefly explain their purpose and why you probably don't need one.

The use of NDAs spread a few years ago when reality TV concepts began proliferating, because so many of them are similar to others. But an NDA is not going to protect you from somebody else creating another Real World/Big Brother/The Bachelor clone, even one with your special twist (such as, they're all left-handed). Courts have repeatedly thrown out lawsuits about this, because none of the concepts are really unique.

During a recent Women in Film and Video-DC session, a network executive said that the NDAs she’s been asked to sign would actually prevent her from telling her bosses about the projects being pitched to her.

The only time NDAs are appropriate are when patents or trade secrets are involved (e.g., the secret ingredient in Coca-Cola). I know that people have gotten into the habit of using NDAs indiscriminately, but with creative works (screenplays, manuscripts, etc.) they serve no purpose. If you are concerned that someone will try and claim that they wrote your screenplay or manuscript themselves, then registration with the Copyright Office before you send it out will take care of that.

Paige Gold

The information above is intended as general advice. It may not apply to your particular situation.