I read the section on your site pertaining to copyrights and adapting a book or novel to a screenplay. My only question is, if the copyright hasn’t expired, but the author died some time ago, what is one to do? I’ve started the adaptation, but I don’t know if I should continue due to my uncertainty.
Also, I’m a young screenwriter, a teenager, and although I’m confident in my writing, will my age hold me back from breaking into the world of screenwriting? Thank you very much for your time.
New York City
When an author dies, the copyright passes on to his heirs. For instance, Roald Dahl wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He died in 1990, but in order to make a movie version of his book, Warner Bros. had to negotiate with the executors of his estate to obtain the rights.
In your case, someone, somewhere owns the rights you seek. In all likelihood, the publisher is sending royalty checks to someone, so the standard advice (call the publisher’s “sub-rights” department) still holds.
[Reminder: It’s copyright, not copywrite; the past tense is copyrighted, not copywritten. I changed the spelling in Brandon’s question because it hurt my eyes. And yes, there is such a word as copywriter, but that’s a person who writes copy for advertising.]
As for your second question, yes, your age may hold you back from breaking into the world of screenwriting. But guess what? You’ll get older. Age is the only quality which increases without any effort on your part.