Have You Heard of FRAPA?

Have you found keeping up with intellectual property (IP) laws in the digital era a challenge? You’re not the only one. In this ever-changing environment, IP laws are following suit or prove to have a lack of structure and organization in certain cases. So who is FRAPA and what do they do? 

FRAPA stands for The Format Recognition and Protection Association. It was established in 2000 by a group of industry pioneers in the formats business, to combat TV format piracy. According to the FRAPA website, Format IPs should be allowed a claim of ownership via the use of copyright laws and other legal remedies citing reasons such as: 

  • Formats are a form of creative expression of creators and should be claimed as their rightful intellectual property.

  • Creators need to be in a position to reap the benefits of their creative works.

  • Formats require hefty investments, thus investors should be assured of the formats’ ROI and profit making abilities. 

At BCWW 2020, Mr. Hwang Jin Woo, moderator of the session, “Building an IP environment for advancing the K-format industry” mentioned creative works can be copyright in 3 ways: Original, Editorial and Derivative. However, formats aren’t recognized as copyright works in Korea. However, blanket copyright laws covering all content types, originals or adaptations, could be covered if some creativity if demonstrated. 

While the FRAPA framework does not guarantee foolproof protection of the creative work, registering a format with the organization is a first step of the process in proving IP ownership. Fee registrations are 75 Euros for members and 150 Euros for non-members. Registration is strongly recommended for creative works such as treatments, scripts, outlines, tender submissions, storylines, artwork, synopses and any video materials available soon after idea conception. After which, FRAPA’s format registry will provide the essential tools to prove the creative works have been registered. Note confirmation and date of registration from the FRAPA Format Registration System (FRS) can be used In IP courts to support any dispute cases. In additon, FRS confidentiality is preserved as no data, names nor addresses will be released to any parties for commercial purposes. Below you’ll find the table of benefits in registering your formats with FRAPA: 

Annual membership fees vary by the company’s annual turn-over. Besides the member benefits listed in the table, FRAPA and the WIPO’s (World Intellectual Property Organization) Arbitration and Mediation Center have jointly established a framework providing alternative resolution services to address format plagiarism exclusively for its members. Other benefits also include exclusive access to research and analysis reports undertaken by FRAPA, business tools such as the Format Guide, Bible Generator (Format Bible templates), Contract Generator and Budge Guidelines. FRAPA also promises a global network of industry relationships and expertise through members-only events. 

Based in the Netherlands, this non-profit organization is made up of experienced board members running its day-to-day operations and provides consultancy and advice to all FRAPA members. Mr. Hwang also sits on the General board of FRAPA and it is no surprise he advocates for writers and creators, stating broadcasting companies need to share revenues with the artists behind the scenes. He also commented on the need to focus less on celebrity-driven shows but unique programs with a global appeal. 

*Screenshots are from the FRAPA and BCWW 2020 websites.