As a writer with a producer partner, I wish to contact a well-known writer / producer to communicate about possible collaboration on possible projects I have written and registered treatments of that I think they might find of interest. Should this go through an entertainment attorney for documentation and maintenance of confidentiality to prevent stealing of the concepts and ideas, or is it acceptable but perhaps not a good idea due to the need to keep one's intellectual property close to the vest because of the well-known risks of thievery in this industry?
First, I am not sure where you come up with the comment about “well known risks of thievery in this industry”. That is a folktale. Rarely does anything get stolen. However, if something is not legally protectable, then its not stealing. Concepts and ideas are not intellectual property and are NOT legally protectable in and of themselves. The copyright laws do not protect such things. That said, there still may be ways to sue someone over ideas or concepts but it depends on the facts. The bottom line for either material that is subject to copyright protection or not is having the documentation to show what you had in writing prior to submission to anyone, and who you submitted the material to and when, and if you met them when and with whom and what was discussed. There is a second more important issue you will need to deal with when speaking with a potential writer. Not that they will steal anything of yours, but once they look at your material , and talk about ideas with you, they may have a case to stop you from doing anything with your treatment/script without them. So , to protect against this, and to help protect against your concerns, its best to have the potential writer sign something before you meet that essentially says you are meeting to discuss the project, and will send him the treatment to read etc, but that anything you guys discuss , and in particular anything he might suggest, you own, whether or not you hire him or otherwise decide to work together and do not owe him any compensation , credit etc. You should have a lawyer prepare this document so its enforceable. BTW, if the writer you are going to meet with or send your materials wont sign, well, that is a good indication you would have trouble with them later, but the easy answer to them about signing is , sign but if he is concerned about making valuable contributions and not getting credit or payment, then meet and talk but don’t make any valuable contributions