It’s your format.

Protect it.

We are FRAPA, the international industry association dedicated to the recognition and protection of entertainment formats

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About us

Context & aims

Protect, promote, educate and connect.

That’s FRAPA in four words. Our core belief is that creatives own their intellectual works and are entitled to the benefits that flow from them. Our mission is to create a global marketplace that respects and protects the grassroots creativity that drives the entertainment industry, from the smallest indie producer to the biggest media conglomerate.

So what does that mean in practice?

It means we protect the interests of our members with a suite of tools and services, including legal and business support, mediation and format registration.

It means we promote the formats industry via newsletters, conferences and an annual awards event to honour the brightest and best examples of our industry in action.

It means we work to educate and inform our members and the wider entertainment world through market surveys, reports and workshops.

It means we foster an interconnected, financially prosperous and ethically focused global community through the FRAPA Code of Conduct and Declaration of Cooperation.

Lastly, FRAPA connects people — and people who know each other are more likely to trust each other. That’s important in a market that lacks a robust legal framework.

FRAPA is more than an industry association. We are a global community of like-minded, right-thinking friends, colleagues and competitors.

Please help us create a fairer, safer and more honest industry.

Alone we can do little; together we can do so much”

FAQ

Everything you need to know about protecting your format

A beginner's guide to format protection

Format protection is complicated. There’s no quick and easy way to protect your intellectual property (IP) against all threats, no 100% water-tight solution. But FRAPA can provide practical and legal help if you believe your rights have been infringed. We can also help you take effective precautionary measures, from putting your concept into writing through depositing it with our secure format registration service to conducting an expert analysis of any format that you think may be a rip-off.

What is a format?

Today’s multi-billion-dollar format industry is built on the premise that a TV format is a valuable, protectable, marketable commodity. However, there is still no generally accepted legal definition of a format, despite the booming global trade in them. Every jurisdiction, broadcaster and production company has a slightly different — and often contradictory — take on this fundamental point.

To provide its members with as much clarity as possible, FRAPA’s board and specialist legal partners have crafted the following definitions and sub-definitions:

Format (noun):

A specific type of intellectual property that allows for and guides the replication of the original idea in subsequent iterations across media, platforms and territories.

  • In television (or any audio and/or video medium), a clear and repeatable set of elements that, when combined, enable the production of a programme. Elements may include, but are not limited to, narrative structure, character descriptions, set and lighting plans, graphic and audio designs, music and sound effects, rules, production procedures and anything else that permits subsequent users to reproduce the original concept.
  • The original idea may or may not be commercially produced, as it is the initial intellectual creation and accompanying elements and instructions that immediately establishes its origin and ownership.

Format (verb) (as in, “to format a show”)

 To turn an existing piece of intellectual property (ie, fiction, non-fiction, song, movie, etc) into a unique and original guide with repeatable elements to be recreated and distributed.

The top-line description is designed to be a simple, understandable and widely encompassing definition that producers, creators, distributors and legal bodies can cite when debating what is and what’s not a format. The sub-definitions offer a more nuanced understanding, as secondary definitions in dictionaries typically do for words with layered meaning.

To translate the above ‘legalise’ into practical guidance, FRAPA has also produced this visual:

Our hope is that this definition will be adopted worldwide by courts and lawyers, as well as the creators, sellers and buyers of formats and that, over time, it will become the accepted standard for our industry. After 20 years and some of the most successful brands on the planet, it’s about time we had one.

 

What’s the difference between an idea and a format?

This is a critical and much misunderstood point, not least because an idea is worthless in monetary terms, whereas a format can have a value of millions. The bottom line is that you cannot protect an idea under law, but you can protect the expression of an idea.

At its simplest, a format consists of a distinctive combination of elements that can be planned, implemented, executed and budgeted. By contrast, an idea is an abstract concept that has not been, or cannot be, put into tangible form. For example, an idea would be wanting to build a car fuelled by rainwater, but lacking the knowledge or resources to do so. A format would be developing a reality show in which mad inventors compete to find the weirdest alternative automobile fuel to help save the planet.

To help differentiate an idea from a format, ask yourself these three questions:

  • Can you calculate what it would cost to transform your idea into a show?
  • Can you define what expertise and resources you would need to execute it?
  • Can you plan the implementation of your idea?

If the answer to those questions is a ‘yes’, then you’ve likely got yourself a format.

 

How can I protect my format?

There is no absolute protection for television formats. However, there are measures that can be taken at various stages of a format’s lifecycle that, taken together, will help safeguard your IP.

When FRAPA was founded in 2000, the legal guidelines pertaining to format protection were not only confused and confusing, but ineffectual. In some jurisdictions, the courts routinely failed to uphold claims of copyright infringement, even in the most blatant of cases. Over the last 20 years, the situation has improved, thanks in part to FRAPA’s ongoing efforts to educate both the courts and the wider entertainment industry. But there remains much to be done in terms of creating a coherent and equitable legal framework for the protection and recognition of the format industry’s increasingly valuable IP.

Any claim to the ownership of a format must first be made using copyright law, the cornerstone of which is that ideas cannot be protected under law — only the expression of those ideas. In other words, you cannot copyright an idea, but copyright will apply to a work that realises your idea. In the case of a format, the easiest and most effective way to fix your idea in tangible form is to write it down in as much detail as possible. For this reason, we strongly recommend that your first step is to commit your concept to paper and deposit it with the FRAPA Registration System

For a more detailed information on how to protect your format, see our 15-step guide to format protection.

What should I do if I think my format has been ripped off?

The answer hinges on where you are in the production cycle. The pathway to resolution differs depending on whether your format has been pitched but not yet produced — what’s known in the business as a ‘paper format’ — or whether it is in production or on air.

In both cases, however, your first step is to compile a chronological dossier containing any and all correspondence, any proof of the date that your concept was created (see FRAPA’s Registration System) and details of any face-to-face meetings. Armed with this evidence, your next move is to contact the company that you believe has infringed your copyright. Be polite but firm and propose a meeting. Depending on the response, follow the steps laid out here in FRAPA’s Infringement Guides.

Arguably as stressful as being the victim of format theft is being falsely accused of stealing somebody else’s IP. This is where the FRAPA Analysis Service (FAS) comes into play. The FAS employs a mix of expert opinion and bespoke analysis methodology to ascertain whether two formats share sufficient similarities to be considered essentially the same. If this is found to be the case, FRAPA will provide a written a statement in support of what it deems to be the original format, which can be used as strong proof in any subsequent legal action.

There’s more information on the FAS and how it can help you here.

Why should I join FRAPA?

First and foremost because FRAPA is the format industry’s home. Whether you’re a format virgin or a veteran, a big fish or a minnow, FRAPA membership is a passport into a global community of friends, colleagues and contacts.

In addition to practical tools and services to help you protect and promote your IP, FRAPA connects you to people who know each other, understand each other and speak the same professional language. It’s an ideas exchange, a forum and an academy of format expertise.

Lastly, FRAPA connects you to partners who share the same values and aspirations, and who conduct their business in line with FRAPA’s Declaration of Co-operation. In a global market that lacks a robust legal framework, FRAPA serves as a benchmark of trust.

FRAPA voices

“Better informed and protected”

“We hope being a FRAPA member will help us become better informed and protected with the format that we’re about to take to market. We’d love to have a friendly, informal chat with other FRAPA members who have sold a format and would be happy to give out some advice!” 

Ruckus Media | (Newsletter: May 2020)

Our services

The right help at the right time

When you join FRAPA, you don’t just join a global community of friends, contacts and colleagues. You also have access to a range of services designed to make your life easier, your IP safer and your profits healthier.

Need help writing a contact or a production bible? Want to know what your format’s worth on the open market? Worried your concept’s been ripped off but not sure what to do next? These are a few of the questions that FRAPA’s various tools and services can help you answer.

Pricing

Flexible membership packages that grow with you

Our equitable pricing structure has been designed to reflect the different shapes, sizes and circumstances of FRAPA members, which range from single creatives through to entertainment-industry heavyweights.

350 euro per FRS

FRS Only

 

  • 1 FRS
  • 3 yrs registration period
  • Upload format

500 euro per year

 Small

1 to 5
Full time employee

Key benefits:

  • 5 FRS uploads
    yearly
  • Unlimited registration period
  • Review formats
  • Modify formats
  • Upload videos

Access to:

  • Price Calculator
  • Contract Generator
  • Bible generator
  • Consultancy
  • Mediation

Eligible for:

  • Events
  • Reports
  • Newsletters
  • FAS

1000 euro per year

Medium

6 to 20
Full time employee

Key benefits:

  • 10 FRS uploads
    yearly
  • Unlimited registration period
  • Review formats
  • Modify formats
  • Upload videos

Access to:

  • Price Calculator
  • Contract Generator
  • Bible Generator
  • Consultancy
  • Mediation

Eligible for:

  • Events
  • Reports
  • Newsletters
  • FAS

5000 euro per year

Large

21 to 500
Full time employee

Key benefits:

  • 15 FRS uploads
    yearly
  • Unlimited registration period
  • Review formats
  • Modify formats
  • Upload videos

Access to:

  • Price Calculator
  • Contract Generator
  • Bible Generator
  • Consultancy
  • Mediation

Eligible for:

  • Events
  • Reports
  • Newsletters
  • FAS

Starts with 15.000 euro

Group

for foundations

Key benefits:

  • 15 FRS feeds yearly per company
  • Unlimited registration period
  • Review formats
  • Modify formats
  • Upload video material

Access to:

  • Price Calculator
  • Contract Generator
  • Bible Generator
  • Consultancy
  • Mediation

Eligible for:

  • Events
  • Reports
  • Newsletters
  • FAS

Become a FRAPA sponsor

One way to show support for FRAPA and its founding principles — to protect, promote and connect all those involved in formats — is to become one of our growing band of ‘Friends’.

Friends of FRAPA are entitled to use our logo, attend our events and receive copies of our in-depth reports into the trends shaping the format industry. In the absence of reliable legal protection, our business would struggle to survive without trust and solidarity. Becoming a Friend of FRAPA not only helps us in our mission, but is an act of friendship towards everybody involved in the global formats industry.

For more information, please contact our team on: [email protected]

“FRAPA is the conscience of the global format industry. Protecting the business that feeds our families is why we do what we do”

FRAPA co-chair Phil Gurin, president of The Gurin Company

“FRAPA is a stamp of trust and approval for you and your business. And never has FRAPA been more relevant than it is today”

FRAPA co-chair Jan Salling, head of BBC Studios Nordics Production and founder Missing Link Media

Our partners

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