Collective Licensing: Frequently Asked Questions

The purpose of this document is to provide you with an overview of AWGACS Collective Licensing Scheme.

This document is not a substitution for legal advice and provides general information only.  We encourage you to speak to The Arts Law Centre or your legal adviser if you require further assistance.

How does the AWG Authorship Collecting Society (AWGACS) work for Members?

AWGACS is a royalty collecting society run by writers for writers.  Collecting societies, like AWGACS, collect small amounts of money on behalf of their Members from domestic and international sources.  Members are then paid the royalties they are owed through distributions.  Different rules and agreements apply to the collection and distribution of royalties for Members in different parts of the world, and also for different sources of income.  AWGACS navigates these rules and agreements for its Members.

The AWGACS Board is comprised of experienced writers who volunteer their time to ensure that the distribution rules applied by AWGACS are fair for all Members and that AWGACS is governed by the highest standards.

What's the purpose of the Member Licence?  

By signing a Collection Agreement for Secondary Royalties, you grant AWGACS the authority to administer your secondary rights both within Australia and internationally.

This does not affect the assignment or transfer of the copyrights in the scripts you write and it does not stop the producers you are working with from exploiting the primary rights in your work.  (The “primary rights” are the rights to: a) make a film or TV show from your script, b) broadcast that film or TV show and c) sell or otherwise exploit that film or TV show.) By signing the Member Licence you are simply licensing AWGACS to collect royalties on your behalf from the exploitation of secondary rights in situations where collective management is the most appropriate (and sometimes the only) option.

Secondary rights’ (or ‘secondary use’) involve situations where a third party uses a work that has already been distributed to the public – such as the retransmission of free-to-air broadcasts by Pay TV providers and the copying and viewing of content by educational and government organisations.

This type of agreement is normal practice around the world, for example in the United Kingdom royalties for the use of secondary rights are collected by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS).  Similarly, in Australia, writers of musical compositions have similar sorts of agreements with their collecting society, APRA AMCOS.

What does the Member Licence allow the AWG Authorship Collecting Society to do?  

The Member Licence authorises AWGACS to pursue, collect and administer secondary royalties income within or outside Australia through statutory or collective licensing schemes.

Although this may appear broad, in practice the Member’s Secondary Rights are only applied in specific circumstances to activities such as the following. These may be referred to as “secondary use” in different parts of the world:

  • Private copying
  • Rental and public lending
  • Simultaneous unaltered retransmission by cable or pay TV of primary broadcasts initially transmitted by wire or wireless means or any other available means
  • Communication to the public by means of technical equipment
  • Pay-per-view, video on demand
  • Communication in public places of radio and television programs
  • Projection in cinemas and similar establishments
  • Sale for private use
  • Use for educational purposes

Royalties from these sorts of uses are difficult for individual Members to monitor. The Member Licence enables AWGACS to collect and distribute Members’ royalties for these uses on their behalf providing a simple and effective mechanism for Members to obtain royalties for these uses.

Why does the Member Licence refer to Screenrights?  

The Member Licence specifically refers to Screenrights as it is the nominated Australian collecting society currently mandated by the federal government to collect all royalties for certain types of secondary uses including government copying, educational copying and communication and retransmission. The Member Licence equally applies to overseas collecting societies such as SACD (France), LIRA (the Netherlands) and the other international collecting societies that are listed on our website.

What should Members tell their producer?  

Prior to signing an agreement with a producer or distributor, you should inform the producer that you have entered into the Member Licence with AWGACS. You should also ask for some simple amendments to the Writer’s Agreement, for example, depending on the terms of the agreement this could be along the lines of:

Agreement

Suggested amendment

 

SASA 2008

(Series and Serials Agreement)

Clause 26.1: Collecting Society Payments

The Producer acknowledges that the writer has preassigned the secondary right to AWGACS and that nothing in this agreement will prevent AWGACS from collecting and distributing these secondary royalties to the writer. The Producer will not claim…

 

MATA 2010

(Miniseries and Telemovies Agreement)

Clause 22.1: Collecting Society Payments

The Producer acknowledges that the writer has preassigned the secondary right to AWGACS and that nothing in this agreement will prevent AWGACS from collecting and distributing these secondary royalties to the writer. The Producer will not claim…

 

Other Contracts

Rights/Secondary Rights clause

The Producer acknowledges that the writer has preassigned the secondary right to AWGACS and that nothing in this agreement will prevent AWGACS from collecting and distributing these secondary royalties to the writer. The Producer will not make any claim for secondary rights held by the writer.

 

If the producer needs more information or has any questions regarding the Member’s Licence with AWGACS, please ask them to contact us using the contact details below.

How can the Member Licence be terminated?  

The Member Licence can be terminated at any time with six (6) months’ notice. You can do this by simply emailing or writing to AWGACS stating that you wish to terminate you Member Licence with AWGACS.

Need more information?

If you or a producer you are working with requires more information regarding the Member Licence, please contact one of our friendly staff:

On 02 9319 0339 or via email at [email protected].