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DEGNZ supports criticism of Screenrights

DEGNZ, Auckland, 15 September 2015: The Directors & Editors Guild of NZ (DEGNZ) supports the Australian Directors Guild’s (ADG) and the Australian Directors Authorship Collecting Society’s (ASDACS) criticism of the multimillion dollar organisation, Screenrights, for its recent introduction of a policy that undermines Australian and foreign screen directors entitlements to royalty payments.

“ASDACS collects royalties on behalf of New Zealand directors as well, and our directors’ rights are equally impinged by this blatant disregard of directors’ royalty entitlements by Screenrights,” said Executive Director of DEGNZ Tui Ruwhiu.

Under the EDRP, Screenrights makes two critical assumptions that clearly undermine directors’ entitlements to royalties:

  1. Against Australian directors ‐ Screenrights refuses to presume that Australian directors are entitled to retransmission royalties unless their share of entitlement is specifically set out in the contract. Meaning that many Australian directors may miss out on their fair share of royalty payments.
  2. Against foreign directors ‐ Screenrights refuses to recognise laws in other countries such as Europe and South America where directors have well‐established and clear legal entitlements to royalty payments. For example, if a Spanish film is aired in Australia on FOXTEL, the Spanish director’s royalties may now be paid incorrectly to the producer rather than the director.

One of the key differences between the current Australian and New Zealand laws is that since 2005, Australian directors have been able to claim retransmission royalties for their television programs and films while New Zealand directors have not.

“The nub of the issue revolves around authorship rights, which unfairly reside largely with the producer in Australia and New Zealand,” Ruwhiu added. “As long as directors are denied their due as the authors of their audiovisual material, New Zealand and Australian directors will miss out on royalties for retransmission.”

DEGNZ (formerly the Screen Directors Guild of New Zealand) has for many years sought legislative change in the New Zealand Copyright Act so that directors are fairly recognised as authors of audio-visual content.

“It will be a major effort to effect the change needed, but it is necessary to ensure directors receive fair and equitable remuneration as creators of audiovisual content,” Ruwhiu concluded.

Directors & Editors Guild of NZ
The Directors & Editors Guild of NZ is a not-for-profit membership organisation that represents Directors and Editors in the New Zealand screen industry. This includes Directors and Editors of feature drama and documentary; television drama, documentary and factual programmes; short films; video art; animation; commercials and web content.
DEGNZ’s two primary roles are advocacy and professional development. We:

  • are dedicated to promoting excellence in the arts of directing and editing.
  • foster collegiality and unity within the screen industry.
  • promote members’ creative and economic rights.
  • work to improve industry working conditions and remuneration.
  • offer professional advice and information on contracts and industry standards and practice.
  • offer professional development events, networking opportunities, career advice, dispute resolution, mentoring, workshops, training, discounts and regular news bulletins for members across all levels of expertise, from novices to seasoned professionals.
  • are a voice for Directors and Editors in influencing policy in the interest of our members. We do this through our membership of the pan‐industry group SINZ (Screen Industry New Zealand), and by making submissions to government and public officials.
  • Internationally work co-operatively with other guilds and we belong to the International Affiliation of English‐Speaking Directors’ Organisations (IEASDO).

DEGNZ is Auckland-based with an office in Grey Lynn.

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