Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Foreign Levies! Again!!

As I've written before, TAG has issues with the way that foreign levies (essentially royalties royalties for television shows and theatrical motion pictures distributed in foreign countries) from international collections agencies are handled by the WGA.

To cut to the essence, TAG recently filed a Notice of Joinder to a lawuit between the WGA and several writers who are unhappy with the settlement now ongoing in Federal court.

A hearing on the suit took place last week. Yesterday, I got this message from one of the attorneys involved in the suit:

... Your Notice of Joinder was great, because I'm hearing that animation writers are finally getting foreign levies checks that they never had and ... in the last week the WGA paid out ten million dollars. In the last ten years they [the WGA] paid out eighty million dollars, so they've paid out one eighth of all the levies in the last week, and I don't know if they would have paid that if you hadn't filed that notice of joinder ...

I've no idea if our filing had any effect either. But I know enough about the Ways of the Industry to realize that the WGA will never, but never admit to getting more checks out to animation writers because of our kicking and screaming.

The WGA has been designated as the repository of monies from foreign collection agencies operating under foreign laws. That is, I suppose, the way it is and will be. But I found out today that we're not the only labor organization that is miffed about the way levies have been handled by the Writers Guild over the past two decades.

According to one of the plaintiff's attorneys to whom I talked, the Australian Writers Guild is also unhappy with the handling of foreign levies by the Writers Guild of America. Apparently the Australian Writers Guild collects 100 cents on the dollar on behalf of Australian scribes, while the WGA splits foreign levies 50/50 with our fine conglomerates.

Now. If this is true, then I'm wondering which labor group is the corporate tool, and which not?

Add On: Variety reports on the settlement case here.


Tim said...

I belong to ASCAP, and wrote some ditties for an animated TV show I directed (which airs on NBC). The show recently aired in Israel, and I just got a royalty notification for 36¢.

ASCAP doesn't send out checks that small, so I'll have to wait until next quarter to spend my windfall when it's added to my American royalties. :-)

Maybe that's all I would've gotten anyway. I don't have any way of checking how much, if any, levies were weighed against me.

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