Brussels – 3 June 2015: The Australian Screen Directors Authorship Collecting Society (ASDACS) and the Australian Directors Guild (ADG) have called upon the support of the international not-for-profit organisation Writers & Directors Worldwide in their fight for the fair remuneration of Australian screen directors. Following today’s meeting in Belgium, the three organisations will begin working together to learn from successes in other regions and drive an international awareness campaign to improve the understanding of the independent creators’ plight.
This announcement comes as the ASDACS and ADG launch their “fair remuneration for directors” campaign that aims to grant Australian directors an inalienable right of remuneration for the ongoing exploitation of their films.
“Australian directors make a vital contribution to culture, diversity and economic growth with film adding $AU5.8 billion (€4.1bn) to the country’s GDP in 2013,“ said Sabiene Heindl, Director of Corporate Affairs/Legal for ASDACS and the campaign’s leader. “Yet for close to 50 years, these creators have been denied any meaningful ‘ownership’ of their works and as a result, the majority still earn less than the minimum wage.”
This is clearly a severe issue for directors today and has a significant impact on the next generation of talented Australian directors. Applying the lessons learned from similar challenges faced overseas is invaluable in helping to urgently address this.
“It’s a global issue but we already have the solution in the effective protection of authors’ rights. We just need governments to recognise and enforce them,” said Yves Nilly, screenwriter and Chair of Writers & Directors Worldwide. “The objective for all industry stakeholders must be to build a sustainable creative economy that stimulates great work, allows directors to make a living and encourages exciting new artists for the benefit of culture and for the public.”
The fair remuneration for directors’ campaign by ASDACS and ADG aims to build upon their work in 2005 that resulted in the Australian Government granting partial Retransmission Rights for directors. Whilst this was an important step, the rights are not inalienable and are mostly assigned to producers through contract and so in practice, they have proved ineffective. Despite this, opposition to directors’ copyright in the region is still entrenched both in the common law system and through years of industry practice where Australian government film agencies insisted on chain of title documents in which producers controlled all rights.
“Changing the laws won’t be easy,” said Stephen Wallace, Chair of the ASDACS. “The Australian government has been reluctant in the past to act without the consent of all parties in such matters so it’s vital that all parties understand the issues at stake. Money is flowing in from European collecting societies but the lack of Australian recognition of directors’ rights to remuneration make it difficult for local audio-visual societies like ASDACS to reciprocate. This stifles the creation of new Australian work and makes our industry unattractive to overseas creators. What we need is fairness for directors and the work they do.”
Incorporated in 1995, ASDACS is the Australian Screen Directors Authorship Collecting Society, set up on behalf of all such directors in Australia and New Zealand. ASDACS belongs to its members, over 850 mostly Australian and New Zealand filmmakers and television directors whose works have gone on from their first release to be seen in secondary markets: on overseas stations, on cable or pay TV, in schools in France or on rented DVDs in Spain. In its role as representative of its members, ASDACS is authorised to claim royalties that are generated in these widely-spread territories through rights that are recognised there and collectively managed on behalf of the authors of these works. It is then ASDACS’ task to collect and distribute these royalties to the creative rights holder members.
ASDACS has claims on behalf of over 30,000 works and has made 16 distributions of income collected for the mostly Australian and New Zealand directors of these works. Learn more at www.asdacs.com.au
About Writers & Directors Worldwide
Writers & Directors Worldwide is a not-for-profit organisation that exists to protect and promote the rights of audiovisual, literary and dramatic creators. Chaired by French author and screenwriter Yves Nilly, and led by an international executive committee of established screenwriters, playwrights, poets and directors, the organisation provides a forum for the sharing of ideas, information, best practices and practical advice to defend the right to fair remuneration.
Through regular working groups, Writers & Directors Worldwide provides specific experience and expertise both to creators and to the authors’ societies that manage their rights. Within the dramatic, literary and audiovisual repertoires, the organisation aims to unify the voice of creators and support authors’ organisations in their fight to establish effective rights and fair remuneration for creators. It also works to raise awareness of creators’ rights issues within the industry and with the wider public and enhance the economic and cultural contribution of creators in all areas of the world.
Writers & Directors Worldwide is an official observer to the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s (WIPO) Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights. Learn more at www.writersanddirectorsworldwide.org