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Scriptwriters' fight over unpaid royalties to go to mediation

Screenrights, Australia's monopoly audio-visual royalty collection agency, has agreed to attend mediation in an attempt to end a long-running battle over claims of unpaid royalties to scriptwriters.

The case, which was commenced by the Australian Writers’ Guild (AWG) and the Australian Writers’ Guild Authorship Collecting Society (AWGACS) came before Justice Jagot for a further directions hearing in the Federal Court of Australia today, 5 July 2016.

At today’s hearing Justice Jagot ordered that the proceedings be referred to mediation prior to 30 September 2016.AWG President Jan Sardi says that although negotiations with Screenrights over many years have failed to produce any real movement, the Guild will put its best efforts into mediation."A fair outcome will not only be good for screenwriters, but it will be good for the health of Australia's entire screen industry," he says.

The action, which was filed on 3 March 2016 by the 2,600-member AWG and AWGACS, comes after many years of complaints to Screenrights about the distribution of royalties to scriptwriters.It is alleged that Screenrights has engaged in numerous breaches of statutory duty and trust, misleading or deceptive conduct and interference with contractual relations. As a result, millions of dollars of script royalties collected by Screenrights over many years from educational and other users of Australian films and TV programs may be owed to Australian scriptwriters.

International body, Writers & Directors Worldwide, has supported the AWG’s case in a recent statement of solidarity issued from Paris.

Shannen Usher
5 July, 2016
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