Directors join as members of Screenrights to claim and receive royalty payments, and can also access additional services.
Did that grab your attention? We hope so.
In the same way, there are no Screenrights royalties payable to producers or production companies just because they make a film, TV show, documentary or other screen project.
Screenrights royalty payments are made to rightsholders. Whether you are a rightsholder or not will depend on Australian copyright law and your contracts. You may be entitled to claim some Screenrights royalties, but not others. You may be able to claim all Screenrights royalties for all your films, TV shows, documentaries and other screen projects that you have made, or none at all. Keep reading to learn more.
Screenrights collects and pays secondary royalties from Australia and New Zealand. These can range in value from a few cents to thousands of dollars.
See Royalty Payments to find out more about Screenrights royalties and the rights you need to own or control to be entitled to receive them.
In 2005, the Australian Copyright Amendment (Film Directors Rights) Act granted directors of films a share of Australian Retransmission royalties for films produced after 19 December 2005, subject to some exceptions.
Learn more about directors’ rights.
The Australian Directors Guild publishes recommended clauses for directors to include in their contracts.
Getting it right from the start
The rights associated with collecting Screenrights royalties are transferable. Whether or not you own or control the right to receive Screenrights royalties today depends on the specific terms of the contracts entered into when the film, TV show, documentary or other screen project is made and the specific terms of any subsequent contracts such as distribution agreements.
Screenrights publishes sample contract clauses which highlights relevant legal issues to consider in order to get it right from the start. Of course, you should always seek advice from a qualified legal practitioner before signing any contract.
Some of the agreements that may deal with Screenrights royalties include:
- Director’s agreement
- Agency appointment agreement
DIRECTORS’ RIGHTS FAQS
Retransmission royalties are generated when free to air television or radio broadcasts are retransmitted across a different network such as pay television. This is because provisions in the Australian Copyright Act allow broadcasts of copyright material to be retransmitted in Australia provided the retransmitter pays a royalty to the relevant rightsholders.
Screenrights has been appointed by the Australian Government to administer these provisions, with royalties payable to rightsholders in programs that are retransmitted from 4 March 2001.
The Copyright Amendment (Film Directors’ Rights) Act granted directors a share of film retransmission royalties for films produced after 19 December 2005. However, the Act does not specify what the director’s share of the retransmission royalties is. The rights of a director to a film are limited to a right to receive a share of the retransmission royalties to be collected by Screenrights, unless otherwise expressed in the contract.
The directors’ rights provision applies only to films made after 19 December 2005. The Australian Copyright Act protects both films made by Australian citizens and residents, and foreign films where the maker is a citizen or resident of a country which is a party to an international copyright treaty. In practice most countries are now members of the Berne Convention, the UCC Convention or the WTO, and therefore most foreign films will be protected under Australian copyright law.
Foreign directors will therefore be entitled to claim the directors’ copyright in the same way that Australian directors may assert their claim.
The Copyright Amendment (Film Directors Rights) Act 2005 amended the Copyright Act to grant directors a share of film retransmission royalties for films produced after 19 December 2005. However, the Act does not specify what the director’s share of the retransmission royalties is; it is for the parties to the agreement to specify the proportion in which the director and producer share the retransmission royalties.
There are a number of limitations on the application of the provisions:
- For films produced prior to 19 December 2005, there is no statutory entitlement of directors to a share of these royalties. As such, the 2005 amendments have no effect
- The amendments apply only to films that are not commissioned films. Copyright in a film made under a commission continues to be held by the commissioning party subject to any agreement to the contrary. Under the Copyright Act a film is “commissioned” if it is made in pursuance of an agreement for payment of valuable consideration to the maker of the film
- Directors who are employees generally will not hold rights – the director’s right will be held by the employer unless there is a contractual agreement to the contrary
REGISTERING YOUR CLAIMS
Once you’ve determined that you are a rightsholder and can claim Screenrights royalties, you need to tell us about it. You can do this by submitting registrations on MyScreenrights for the films, TV shows, documentaries or other screen projects in which you own or control the right(s) to collect Screenrights royalties. You can also choose to register via your appointed agent, if you have one.
Learn more about registering for royalties here.
REGISTERING DIRECTLY OR APPOINTING AN AGENT
As a director, you can join as a member and receive royalty payments directly from Screenrights. You can also choose to appoint an agent to claim and receive royalty payments on your behalf. The choice is yours.
When you appoint an agent you will still need to provide the agent with information about the films, TV shows, documentaries and other screen projects in which you own or control the right to collect Screenrights royalties.
Typically, an agent will charge a fee or commission for the services they provide. Often this is charged as a percentage of the royalties the agent collects on your behalf. Appointing an agent is a commercial decision and agreement terms vary – so always do your homework and seek legal advice if you need to.
The Australian Directors Guild Authorship Collecting Society (ASDACS) offers a service to directors to collect Screenrights royalties on their behalf, as well as a range of other complementary services for directors. Other agents may offer similar services to directors.
ROYALTIES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
For directors wishing to claim royalties from outside of Australia and New Zealand, the Australian Directors Guild Authorship Collecting Society (ASDACS) is the collecting society for Australian and New Zealand directors. ASDACS has agreements in place that enable them to collect from similar organisations that operate in other countries around the world.
A director may therefore choose to receive Screenrights royalty payments for Australian and New Zealand directly from Screenrights and other international royalties from ASDACS, or alternatively, to receive all royalties from ASDACS. Check the applicable fees with ASDACS.
Visit the Help Centre to learn more about the royalties we pay, registering your claims and timing of payments.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- If you hold the right to copy, communicate or retransmit any or all of the copyright materials in a program you are entitled to become a member of Screenrights. Membership is free.
- You should join Screenrights if you can claim educational, government and/or retransmission royalties for any or all of the copyright materials in a program. If your program is broadcast on television in Australia or New Zealand, we recommend you become a member and register your programs.
Our members are rightsholders in film and television programs, including producers, directors, scriptwriters, artists, production companies, distributors, sales agents, commercial collection agents, broadcasters and other collecting societies.
- Your membership details and any information on royalties earned are kept in confidence. This information is only available to authorised Screenrights employees.
- However, if your project is funded by a funding body Screenrights may report royalty payments for that title to the funding body. As the funding agencies are owners of copyright in the programs, they are entitled to receive information as to the royalties collected.