The royalties we have sent to members up till now are all foreign income, an entitlement that all our directors share with the directors who live in countries where those entitlements have been formalised by statute, mainly in Europe. This income is yours as director because your authorship is recognised in those countries, and because that authorship comes with a right to royalties. In some countries, it is not possible for directors to renounce this entitlement, so it remains as part of their ongoing income.

The position of directors in Australia is very different. While the Copyright Act was amended in 2005 to recognise directors, for the first time, as one of the owners of copyright, directors are only recognised as a copyright owner for the sole purpose of sharing in the revenue which is generated when something which has been broadcast on free-to-air television is retransmitted on pay-TV.

However, directors are not entitled to a share of these royalties if they have assigned their limited copyright to someone else (which is very common), such as to the producer or investors, or if they have not otherwise retained their right to receive such income in their contracts. The collection of retransmission income under the newly amended Act is being handled by Screenrights.

ASDACS has drafted a clause you can use in your next contract to reserve these rights, and the ADG or your lawyer can advise you on this.

If you have already reserved your right to a share of Australian retransmission income, the ASDACS Voluntary Rightsholder Scheme will allow ASDACS members to claim and receive this income through ASDACS, without ASDACS imposing any administrative charges. ASDACS will also be distributing royalties from the Australian retransmission scheme for overseas directors.

If you are not confident of your copyright ownership or retransmission royalty entitlements under contract, you can sign the membership form without ticking the box for the new scheme. Or, if you are already an ASDACS member, there’s no need to fill out the new membership form at all. The Voluntary Rightsholder service is offered on a continuing basis and you can always opt in later.

If you need further information, please contact us.