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Australian Government Royalties

Australian Government Royalties 2019-08-21T16:28:56+00:00
This information guide explains how the licence fees we collect from Australian government departments are paid out as royalties.

Where does the money come from?

In Australia, government departments can copy any program from a television or radio broadcast and from the internet, provided that the Commonwealth or State government has a Screenrights licence.

The licence fees paid by the Commonwealth and State governments become government copying royalties.

Copying royalties

Government copying royalties are triggered when a copy is made of a film, TV show, documentary or other screen project from a broadcast or from the internet. This copy could be made on physical media (such as a DVD) or on digital media (such as a hard drive in a content management system). Government copying royalties are also triggered when a new copy is made of a previous copy of a broadcast or copy from the internet.

Performance within government departments

There are no secondary royalties for the playing or performance of a copy of a film, TV show, documentary or other screen project within government departments.

Streaming screen content in government departments

There are no secondary royalties for streaming a film, TV show, documentary or other screen project within a government department. As a licensed government department is not making a copy of the program or communicating a copy of the program, streaming activities do not fall under the Screenrights licence and therefore no royalty is triggered.

Collections to Expenses Ratio

All the money we collect is distributed to members after the deduction of administrative overheads only. The administration fee is referred to in percentage terms and is called the collections to expenses ratio. The collections to expenses ratio is detailed in our Annual Reports and is set out below:

Year Ratio
2018 16.40%
2017 15.40%
2016 14.1%
2015 13.1%
2014 14.0%

Rightsholders should note that if they appoint an agent to collect Screenrights royalties on their behalf, the agent may also charge an administrative or agent’s fee on top of Screenrights’ costs.

Distribution Period

Screenrights’ Constitution has always allowed for a 4-year distribution period, with an additional two years where the Board determines it necessary. In practical terms Screenrights has taken six years to distribute royalties. In 2020 Screenrights will be moving back to having four years to distribute royalties. For members this will mean that royalties from the 2014, 2015 and 2016 distribution years will expire in June 2020.

Data for Royalty Distribution

Government departments report data to Screenrights about the programs they copy from television and radio. Screenrights then allocates royalties to the programs that have been copied.

Screenrights collects data across the Australian financial year, 1 July to 30 June, with royalty payments commencing the following December. This means that it can take between 6 – 18 months before rightsholders may receive a royalty payment for the use of their programs. For example, if a program was broadcast and copied in July, the royalty payment would be made in December the following year. 

Royalty Valuation

There are two factors that influence the value of a program that has been copied or communicated by a government department. These are:

  • The duration of the copy – a 60 minute program will receive more than a 30 minute program.

  • The category of the  program – there are currently two categories of programs: ephemeral and non-ephemeral. Ephemeral programs are programs of a shorter “shelf life” such as news and current affairs, and as such receive a smaller weighting and a smaller allocation of royalties. Non-ephemeral programs such as documentaries and feature films receive a higher weighting and therefore a greater allocation of royalties.

Copyright Splits

Screenrights allocates royalties to different copyright materials that make a program, including film, script, and sound recordings. In Screenrights’ Distribution Policy we refer to this as the Scheme of Allocation. 

The current allocation for the Australian Government Service is:

Copyright Split
Cinematograph Film (‘Film’) 67.10%
Literary & Dramatic Work (‘Script’) 21.70%
Commissioned Sound Recordings 0.64%
Musical Works 7.30%
Library Sound Recordings 0.20%
Commercial Sound Recordings 1.06%
Broadcast Signal 2.00%

Registration and payment

Once you have reviewed your agreements and established that you hold the relevant rights (https://www.screenrights.org/screen-industry/royalty-payments/) you can claim Screenrights royalties by becoming a member and registering your entitlements to collect royalties for films, documentaries and TV shows on MyScreenrights. When you are registering a program, you are warranting to Screenrights that you are entitled to claim the royalties you have specified in your registration. 

We recommend registering your claims as soon as practicable after the film, TV show, documentary or other screen project has been released, or after you have received an assignment of rights or have been appointed to collect on another party’s behalf.

Distribution Policy

More detail on how royalties are calculated can be found in our Distribution Policy.

View Full Distribution Policy