A Federal Court judge has directed parties involved in a long-running battle over claims of unpaid writers’ royalties into mediation.
Justice Jagot today directed royalties agency Screenrights, the Australian Writers’ Guild (AWG) and the Australian Writers’ Guild Authorship Collecting Society (AWGACS) be referred to mediation prior to 30 September 2016.
The case was filed in March by the 2,600-member AWG and AWGACS, after many years of complaints to Screenrights about the distribution of royalties to scriptwriters.
In March AWG President Jan Sardi suggested scriptwriters believed they are owed approximately $56 million but negotiations with Screenrights have failed to produce any real movement.
“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.
During 2014/15 Screenrights collected $45.9 million in licence revenue and other income for the film and television industries, with a total distribution of $38.6 million.
Updated: Statement from Screenrights:
Screenrights has welcomed the assistance of the Federal Court in reaching agreement on a timetable for mediation of the claims made by the Australian Writer’s Guild (AWG) and its collection society AWGACS alleging Screenrights has failed to pay scriptwriters their royalty entitlements.
Screenrights totally rejects those claims and now is hopeful that a mediation process may help provide some clarity around the case which AWG and AWGACS are seeking to bring.
Previous attempts to mediate have been unsuccessful.
Lawyers representing Screenrights and AWG/AWGACS appeared before Justice Jagot this morning for the brief directions hearing and agreed to two separate mediation sessions to occur before 30 September.
The matter has been listed to come back before the Federal Court on 11 October to report on the outcome of the mediation talks and any further steps which may be required to resolve the dispute.
In the meantime, Screenrights will continue to collect and pay royalties on behalf of all its Members in a fair and transparent manner, in accordance with applicable contracts and Australian law.