CISAC Supports Australian Writers and Directors

The Confederation supports Australian writers and directors in expressing their disappointment at the adoption of new rules for the distribution of audiovisual royalties in Australia

The rules, adopted on 1 September by Screenrights (an entity in charge of the administration of a range of statutory licences including the educational, government copying and retransmission licence schemes under the Australian Copyright Act) and introduced by the new Express Dispute Resolution Procedure (EDRP), ignore international rights ownership practices.

Specifically, the EDRP rules incorporate a new presumption which explicitly states that Screenrights will not recognize the enduring rights of authors under foreign copyright law in determining the proper recipient of statutory royalties. This means that the new regime created by the EDRP disregards the fact that rights outside Australia may be governed by binding rules which, in particular, prohibit the assignment of a right of remuneration. This presumption means that an author's entitlement to statutory royalties for copyright in his/her script is inappropriately distributed to the producer instead of the author.  

The concerns of the international community in support of Australian writers and directors represented by the Australian Writers Guild (AWG) and Australian Directors Guild (ADG) were recently expressed by CISAC's Legal Committee.  A resolution dated 10 July 2015 stated that this presumption may be prejudicial against international and Australian authors and their proper royalty entitlements under the terms of the Berne Convention.

A copy of AWG's and ADG’s media statements can be accessed here:

Resolution of CISAC Legal Committee

The CISAC Legal Committee is concerned that the Screenrights’ International Presumption is prejudicial to international authors and their proper entitlements under the terms of the Berne Convention, which was ratified by the Australian government, and which sets up three basic principles that narrow the applicability of this presumption: the principle of "national treatment", the principle of "automatic" protection and the principle of "independence" of protection.

The CISAC Legal Committee therefore agreed to formally request in writing that Screenrights withdraw the Screenrights’ International Presumption from the Screenrights’ EDRP and not make any policies pursuant to the Screenrights’ International Presumption or which would otherwise prejudice international authors, until such time as Screenrights has sought and considered independent advice on the implications of the Screenrights’ International Presumption for Australia’s obligations under the Berne Convention.