The Australian Writers Guild has accused Screenrights of not properly paying screenwriters, launching a multi-million-dollar legal case in the Federal Court.
Screenrights, a Federal Government authority set up in 1990 to collect and distribute royalty money,
to producers, broadcasters, distributors, music, script and other copyright owners, maintains it pays the appropriate copyright holders.
Industry veteran, screenwriter Jan Sardi, said he didn’t receive any money for the hit film Shine. He said writers were supposed to get a 22% and scriptwriters believed they are owed approximately $56 million.
Writer Tim Pye said, “All I know is I have been writing successful Australian television drama for 30 years and I’ve never received one cent from Screenrights.
“And our fight is not with producers, it’s with Screenrights, because it’s not really who have they given that money to instead of writers — without a script there’s no film, there’s no television product, writers are at the absolute centre.”
He suggested Screenrights collect royalty monies but wait for them to be claimed.
“Essentially the Australian Writers’ Guild would like Attorney-General Brandis, to whom they are accountable, to step in and provide some fairness and transparency and accountability to the system they use to distribute their royalties,” he said.
Screenrights has told the ABC it will defend the claims in the Federal Court.
The first court date is set for April 5.