Frequently Asked Questions: Competing Claims

A competing claim arises when Screenrights has received two or more registrations for the same royalties.

Statutory Royalties are Screenrights royalties for educational use, government use and retransmission under the Australian Copyright Act, and for educational use under the New Zealand Copyright Act.

First of all, well done to you for registering proactively – it helps us keep costs low and distribute royalties efficiently, so thank you.

There are two main reasons why a competing claim has arisen now, and not before:

  1. A new claim has been received from another member. Members of Screenrights can register programs at any time. In this case, another member has recently registered the program and we’ve identified that there is a competing claim over payable royalties.
  2. There are now royalties payable. Generally, we will only notify you about a competing claim if there are royalties payable.

Screenrights members can register their claim to royalties at any time. When a member registers a program they provide warranties as to the accuracy of their claim under their Membership Agreement.

Just like you, the other member has registered that they are entitled to the royalties. Screenrights accepts both registrations in good faith and notifies the parties that there is a competing claim to royalties.

A missing agreement does present obstacles. If you cannot locate your agreement it does become harder to confirm your own position and to support that position with evidence.

We recommend that you:

  1. ask your legal representative if they have access to the agreement;
  2. ask the other party to the agreement if they can provide you with a copy; and/or
  3. search for any draft versions of the agreement or correspondence relating to the agreement.

You can also ask the other party to the competing claim to support their position by providing their agreement or a relevant excerpt.

As a proactive step for the future we recommend scanning copies of your agreements and storing these digitally for ease of access.

This can be confusing, we agree.

It may appear that you have a competing claim with yourself in circumstances where an agent is claiming on your behalf and you are also claiming royalties directly with Screenrights.

There are two ways to resolve this type of competing claim:

  1. Contact the agent and ask them to withdraw. Agents act under instruction from principals (which is you in this circumstance). You can instruct your agent, subject to any arrangements you have entered into with them, to withdraw their claim on your behalf. This will release the royalties directly to you.
  2. Withdraw your direct claim with Screenrights. Alternatively, if you would like the royalties to be released to your agent then you will need to withdraw your registration with Screenrights.

Sometimes there can be a question over agency representation. Get in touch with the Resolutions Team if you do not believe that you have authorised the agent to act on your behalf.

If the competing claim remains unresolved at the deadline then the amount of the deadline royalties expires and is lost to both parties. The royalties are rolled into the next pool of royalties made available for distribution and then reallocated.

If you have previously been paid some or all of the deadline royalties for the program you may be asked to substantiate your claim or return the royalties to Screenrights.

No, due to obligations of confidentiality, the Australian Privacy Principles under the Privacy Act 1988 and Screenrights’ Privacy Policy, Screenrights cannot disclose the financial information of one member (which includes the amount of individual payments to a member) to another member unless that member consents to such a disclosure.

Occasionally the amount paid to you may be different from the estimated value of a competing claim on MyScreenrights.

The estimated value of a competing claim on MyScreenrights could be different to the subsequent amount paid to you for one (or both) of the following reasons:

  1. The amounts on MyScreenrights for competing claims are estimates only. The estimate assumes that the competing claim is resolved 100% in your favour. If your claim is less than 100%, you can expect less than 100% of the estimated value.
  2. The total estimated amounts includes royalties already paid to you. If you have already been paid royalties for the program you will be able to see this on the competing claim in MyScreenrights. We provide a breakdown on any amounts paid and unpaid, however the total estimated amount put into the question by the competing claim includes both paid royalties and unpaid royalties.

If you have already been paid royalties for a program and there is now a competing claim to those royalties you may need to return these royalties to Screenrights.

Of course, this will depend on the outcome of the competing claim. If the competing claim is resolved in your favour then the royalties have already been paid appropriately and you will not need to repay those royalties to Screenrights.

If the competing claim is resolved in favour of the other party, either in part or in full, then you will need to repay any affected royalties to Screenrights. Normally this repayment takes the form of an adjustment against a future payment, however you can elect to repay the royalties immediately to Screenrights by requesting an invoice.

Screenrights has taken into account feedback from members who have found that resolving competing claims is time consuming and costly. The Express Resolution Process (ERP) aims to improve efficiency and fairness where a presumption is able to be applied based on the registration information relating to the competing claims.

The Presumptions under the ERP are based on a recognition of principles of Australian copyright law, industry agreed contracts and industry practice. Under Australian copyright law, Statutory Royalties are payable to the copyright owner in a work and copyright ownership in a work may be completely assigned. A contract may however indicate that Statutory Royalties are payable to a person other than the copyright owner in a work.

The position differs under the laws of some countries, which provide for a right to receive certain royalties based on authorship in a work rather than ownership of copyright.

The Presumptions currently acknowledge the following Australian industry agreed contracts, which relate to the payment of specific Statutory Royalties to the writer of a script:

  • SPA-AWG Series and Serials Agreement 2008
  • SPA-AWG Miniseries and Telemovie Agreement 2010
  • SPA-AWG Children’s Television Agreement 2011

The ERP contains a number of Presumptions relating to screenwriters.

These include:

  • Screenwriters of Australian Television Series or Serials. If you are a screenwriter who worked on an Australian television series or serial that commenced production on or after 1 January 2008, under the Express Resolution Process (ERP) you have a presumption in your favour (Presumption 5). This means the other claimant must challenge the presumption in accordance with the ERP.
  • Screenwriters of Australian Miniseries or Telemovies. If you are a screenwriter who worked on an Australian miniseries or telemovie that commenced production on or after 1 January 2010, under the ERP you have a presumption in your favour (Presumption 6). This means the other claimant must challenge the presumption in accordance with the ERP.
  • Screenwriters of Australian Children’s Television. If you are a screenwriter who worked on an Australian children’s television series that commenced production on or after 1 January 2011, under the Express Resolution Process (ERP) there is a presumption not in your favour (Presumption 4). This means you must challenge the presumption in accordance with the ERP if you believe that you have retained the right to collect script royalties.
  • Screenwriters of Australian Cinematographic Films, Documentaries and Short Programs. Should standard industry screenwriter contracts be agreed for Australian feature films, documentaries, children’s television programs or short programs that provide for payment of Screenrights royalties to screenwriters, the ERP will be updated to reflect this arrangement. This means a new presumption would be created.
  • Screenwriters of New Zealand Programs. Should standard industry screenwriter contracts be agreed for New Zealand programs that provide for payment of Screenrights royalties to screenwriters, the ERP will be updated to reflect this arrangement. This means a new presumption would be created.

Currently, the ERP has no direct effect on local or foreign directors claiming royalties for retransmission on films made on or after the date that a director’s right was recognised under the Copyright Act, being 19 December 2005.

Should a standard industry contract be agreed in Australia or New Zealand that provides for a specific share to directors of retransmission royalties, the ERP will be updated to reflect this arrangement. This means a new presumption would be created.

Until such time, Screenrights relies on directors and other rightsholders to tell us what proportion of the retransmission royalty share each member is entitled to. Screenrights strongly advises members to ensure that their contracts specify the proportions in which directors and producers are to share retransmission royalties.

No, not all competing claims can be resolved under the ERP. The ERP is initiated in cases where there is a presumption that is applicable based on the registration information relating to the competing claims.

Screenrights will consider any evidence that may overturn or put a presumption into question. This may include a contract or an extract of key terms that challenges the basis of a presumption.

The ERP may be applied to a competing claim at any time during the six open distribution years.

We prioritise high and medium value competing claims, and any competing claim with royalties subject to the next deadline. Competing claims are reviewed in this order to ensure members still have time to resolve their competing claims under the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Procedure.

As a general guide, members are given 60 days to respond to a request for a written application. Screenrights will advise of the outcome of the written application within 30 days of receipt.

Yes. While it is possible to register a claim for deadline royalties up to 30 April in the relevant year, such late registrations do not allow sufficient time for the ERP to operate. However, in these circumstances members may use the ADR Procedure for Competing Claims.

We encourage and appreciate early, proactive registrations.

If you do not make an application or make an application within the set timeline, then the Presumption stands and the royalties will be paid to the party who has the Presumption in their favour.

You are welcome to make an application at any time in an effort to overturn the Presumption in relation to any future royalties. However, until your application is successful, Screenrights may continue to pay royalties to the other party.

If you make an application but cannot provide sufficient evidence to overturn the Presumption or put the Presumption into question, Screenrights may pay the royalties to the other party.

You are welcome to make another application at any time in an effort to overturn the Presumption in relation to any future royalties. However, until your application is successful, Screenrights may continue to pay royalties to the other party.

The ERP may be applied to a competing claim at any time during the six open distribution years.

We prioritise high and medium value competing claims, and any competing claim with royalties subject to the next deadline. Competing claims are reviewed in this order to ensure members still have time to resolve their competing claims under the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Procedure.

You can ask Screenrights to review your program registration information to determine if a Presumption applies under the ERP. However, priority will be given to the review of competing claims subject to a deadline.

With Low Value Competing Claims the solution seeking member needs to have made at least three attempts at resolving the competing claim with the other party before pursuing an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). There needs to be at least two weeks between each attempt and no more than three months between the first and third attempts.

If by the time you send your third communication the competing claim has been open for 12 months, then yes, you can consider your first email as your first communication.

Otherwise, you can only consider your first email as your first communication if the Low Value Competing Claim is subject to a deadline.

An internal determination made by Screenrights can take up to a month. Expert adjudications under the ADR can take up to 90 days. You will be notified of any prolonged delays to a determination under the ADR.

For the purposes of a solution-seeking party seeking relief under the ADR for their attempts to resolve a low value competing claim with a non-responsive opposing member, a “communication” is accepted as a written letter or email, the contents of which reasonably and in good faith propose to the other party to resolve the low value competing claim.

Yes. Like all Screenrights policies and processes, the ERP and its Presumptions will be reviewed on a regular basis. The ERP can be updated to reflect any new relevant industry agreed contracts.

Screenrights regularly reviews its resolution procedures as a means of ensuring these processes are transparent, fair and cost-effective. A general evaluation of the broader framework of Screenrights’ Competing Claim Resolution Procedures was undertaken in late 2016, which included a review of the ADR. However, Screenrights always welcomes your feedback and suggestions on these procedures and how they may be improved.

No. As much as we’d like to assist you towards a speedy resolution of your competing claim we are unable to accept and review documents unless submission is part of a competing claim resolution procedure.

>We’ve put together our recommended steps to a successful resolution to help you get started.

If you find that you are unable to reach a resolution by discussions with the other party we recommend that you explore your options under the Alternative Dispute Resolution Procedure.

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