I am writing a short story and thinking of publishing it in the next month.

But then, I had a doubt. What if somebody takes it, expands it and changes it a bit and makes a movie or a novel out of it? Will I have any right on that content and can I fight for it? I know I might be thinking too much into it, but just wanted to know :-) Any advice would be greatly appreciated.



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    The kind of people who can produce a movie would pay you for the option, because it's an insignificant portion of a movie's budget unless you're writing Harry Potter. Aug 25, 2018 at 22:52
  • Might this be because of "Shape of Water"? I know the chances are slim, but I totally see your concern because enough cases happen where similarities appear. Often, though, I think it's simply due to the number of creative people out there who have the power to release their ideas into the world. Eventually, two independent authors/artists do end up having the same idea in any creative endeavor, which is why it's hard sometimes to claim plagerism. Aug 29, 2018 at 6:02
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    Sometimes it's just Steam Engine Time. A few years ago I had an idea for a story where an accident at a particle facility looking at the Higgs boson unintentionally created a way to create a portal to someplace else. Three days later I read the first chapter of Ringo and Taylor's Through the Looking Glass and there's an accident at a particle lab researching the Higgs boson which results in the creation of portals to somewhere else. It does happen. Aug 30, 2018 at 21:25

2 Answers 2


That won't happen, especially if it's published. Once it is, provided you were published by a respectable firm, not only do you have implicit copyright for having made it, but also have certain rights regarding royalties due to your publication.

You'll be fine.

  • I myself have been wondering about this because of "The Shape of Water" (which might have prompted this question, possibly along with other similar lawsuits). Would it be all right to elborate on how plagarism is detected in these situations? Aug 29, 2018 at 6:06

Stolen ideas are a big concern for many beginning writers, but few people actually steal ideas because:

1) Most creative people are mainly interested in their own ideas,
2) The actual success of any idea is in the realization of it, not the concept,
3) It's not financially worth it to steal ideas, at least in countries with good copyright laws.

With all that said, if you publish a novel, the rights to the movie version may go to the publisher, depending on your contract. Or, if you sell the movie rights yourself, you will likely lose creative control once the sale is finalized. There have been any number of authors who were unhappy with the filmed versions of their books.

But on the other hand, it probably means MANY many more people will read your original book, even if it is very different from the final movie. So it's a trade-off. But is it better for no one to read you at all? You've written it --isn't it better to publish it than to lock it in a safe?

  • Great answer! I have a habit of sharing my story ideas on public forums/comments, simply because I like the idea and if someone else were to take it and run with it, I'd be just as happy. Of course, this is only for certain ideas, but I think you're spot on in saying that an idea published, subject to be used by the world, is better than an idea locked away with no one to benefit from it. Aug 29, 2018 at 6:10

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