of the leading television formats have now grossed well over $1million
each. A recent Screen Digest report established that the global
format business was worth €2.4billion in 2004. This figure
however represents only the income from the licensing of formats.
It does not represent income from the broadcast of unlicensed
copycat versions of original television formats.
television formats enjoy varying degrees of legal protection worldwide.
There is no statutory protection for television formats in any
country that we know of. Such case law as there is (based on the
national copyright legislation) indicates that a format will enjoy
legal protection if it is both sufficiently original and has been
developed into a detailed documentary form which a court will
then treat as a copyright work.
there is no international uniformity on the law of formats, there
are general principles of copyright law which are common to most
developed jurisdictions. There are however a number of practical
steps that can be taken to make the protection of television formats
easier for those that have invested substantial time and money
in their creation.
you would like to receive a practical guide to help you protect
your format, whatever the jurisdiction, then contact Jonathan
Coad at firstname.lastname@example.org, who would
be happy to send you a copy.