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Old 03-29-2006, 02:38 PM   #1
BROUGHCUT
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Question WGA Minimum: Non-WGA members / Non-US writers

This topic keeps popping up.

The WGA Minimum Basic Agreement covers literary material written under employment in the United States (regardless of whether the writer is a Guild member) and literary material optioned or acquired from a "professional writer".

All Guild members are "professional writers", not all professional writers are Guild members...

For some reason, if a screenwriter has a published novel (does vanity publishing count--the MBA doesn't specify) or fulfills any of the other criteria below, he is entitled to be treated the same as a WGA member when optioning or selling specs to a signatory.

Here's what the WGA Minimum Basic Agreement actually says:


1.A.12.
It is understood that this Basic Agreement shall not, nor is it
intended to, cover contracts for the purchase of literary material (a) which literary material at the time of purchase is published or exploited in any manner or by any medium whatever, or (b) with a person who is not a professional writer as defined in Article 1.B.1.b. or 1.C.1.b. hereof, whichever of said subparagraphs of Article 1 is applicable.
DEFINITION OF A "PROFESSIONAL WRITER":

1.B.1.b.
The term “professional writer” means a person who on or after November 1, 2004, sells, licenses or options to the Company the ownership of or rights to use literary material written by such writer, for use in the production of a motion picture, which literary material had not prior to such sale, license or option been published or exploited in any manner or by any medium whatever, and who at such time:
  1. has received employment for a total of thirteen(13) weeks, which need not be consecutive, as a motion picture and/or television writer, or radio writer for dramatic programs; or
  2. has received credit on the screen as a writer for a television or theatrical motion picture; or
  3. has received credit for three (3) original stories or one (1) teleplay for a program one-half hour or more in length in the field of live television; or
  4. has received credit for three (3) radio scripts for dramatic radio programs one-half hour or more in length; or
  5. has received credit for one (1) professionally produced play on the legitimate stage, or one (1) published novel.
The Company may rely on the statement of the writer
with respect to whether or not the material had
theretofore been published or otherwise exploited.
1.C.1.b is for TV, and is the same.


You don't need to be a Guild member to be entitled to Guild minimum when optioning material to a signatory company.

Following extracts from the SCHEDULE OF MINIMUMS:
PURCHASES FROM A PROFESSIONAL WRITER

The minimums on pages 1 - 3 apply to purchases of literary material from a "professional writer" as that term is defined in the Basic Agreement and to any writer who has negotiated the right to be treated as a “professional writer.”

OPTIONED MATERIAL (THEATRICAL)

Company may option literary material from a "professional writer" for a period of up to 18 months upon payment of not less than 10% of minimum.

This is for info only. Not meeting the WGA's (somewhat vague) definition of a "professional writer" certainly does NOT mean writers should settle for less than WGA minimum compensation and working conditions when dealing with a signatory company.
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Old 03-29-2006, 02:40 PM   #2
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Default Re: WGA Minimum: Non-WGA members / Non-US writers

Should be noted that signatories are not bound by the WGA MBA if a writer performs writing services outside of the United States.

The International Affiliation of Writers Guilds is an agreement affiliating WGAw, WGAE, the Writers Guilds of Great Britain, Cananda (including SARTEC), Australia and New Zealand.

Having re-read the pertinent parts of the WGA MBA and the IAWG Affiliation Agreement, it would appear all writers who work outside the United States are outside the WGA's jurisdiction, regardless of whether or not they are members of an affiliated guild.

What the IAWG Affiliation Agreement does do is oblige all members of affiliated guilds to join the WGA when working within the WGA's jurisdiction (ie, conducting writing services in the United States for a WGA signatory). The WGA's initiation fees are waived for members of affiliated guilds.

Here's what the WGA Minimum Basic Agreement actually says:


ARTICLE 5 GEOGRAPHICAL APPLICATION OF THIS BASIC AGREEMENT (GENERAL)

Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained herein, this Basic Agreement shall apply to writers only in the specific instances set forth below regardless of where the contract of employment or acquisition, as the case may be, is signed:
A. As to a writer or professional writer who lives in the United States, if a deal is made in the United States to employ such writer to render his/her services or if an acquisition deal is made in the United States with such professional writer, and if at the time such deal is made such writer or professional writer is present in the United States, regardless of where the services are rendered; provided further, however, that if such writer or professional writer is a permanent resident of the United States but is temporarily abroad, and if the deal is made by his/her agent, attorney or other representative (including the Guild acting on the writer’s behalf) who is in the United States at the time the deal is made, such deal shall be within the scope and coverage of this Paragraph A., even if such deal is made by such representative in communication by telephone, mail or cable with a representative of the Company, whether such representative of the Company is in the United States or abroad.
B. As to a writer or professional writer who lives in the United States and is transported abroad by Company, if a deal is made to employ such writer to render his/her services or if an acquisition deal is made with such professional writer while the writer or professional writer is abroad as a result of being so transported.
C. As to an employee whose writing services are required or requested by the Company to be performed and are performed in the United States under the supervision and direction of the Company.
D. “A writer or professional writer who lives in the United States,” as such phrase is used in Paragraphs A. and B. above, does not include either of the following:
  1. A person who lives outside the United States (other than for a temporary visit) even though he/she may at any given time be temporarily in the United States; or
  2. A person who lives outside of the United States (other than for a temporary visit) whether or not he/she has retained his/her domicile in the United States.
E. A “deal is made” within the meaning of both Paragraphs A. and B. above when agreement is reached by the Company and the writer as to the money terms.
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Old 04-01-2006, 06:02 AM   #3
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Default Re: WGA Minimum: Non-WGA members / Non-US writers

Hello,
I don't really understand this WGA thing as I live in Australia. Are studios allowed to purchase scripts from writers of other countries? Are we supposed to pay anything to the WGA or move to the US if we get work? Basic questions I know but an answer will be appreciated.
Regards,
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Old 04-01-2006, 06:56 AM   #4
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Default Re: WGA Minimum: Non-WGA members / Non-US writers

Are studios allowed to purchase scripts from writers of other countries?

Yes. They are allowed to do anything they like as they are not bound by the WGA MBA outside the United States. You have to negotiate to be treated as though you are employed under the WGA's jurisdiction in the United States (which shouldn't be a problem if it's a major studio).

Are we supposed to pay anything to the WGA or move to the US if we get work?

Nope. You will only be requested to join the WGA if you write works for hire (for studios or other signatories) whilst in the United States:

Quote:
C. As to an employee whose writing services are required or requested by the Company to be performed and are performed in the United States under the supervision and direction of the Company.
If you are already a member of the Australian writers' guild, you don't have to pay to join the WGA.
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Old 04-01-2006, 07:06 AM   #5
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Default Re: WGA Minimum: Non-WGA members / Non-US writers

Thank you that was very helpful.

Regards,
Adam.
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Old 04-02-2006, 03:23 AM   #6
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Default Re: WGA Minimum: Non-WGA members / Non-US writers

You the man Brough
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Old 04-03-2006, 10:13 AM   #7
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Default Re: WGA Minimum: Non-WGA members / Non-US writers

Great thread.

I think the key sentence is this:

"The minimums on pages 1 - 3 apply to purchases of literary material from...any writer who has negotiated the right to be treated as a “professional writer.”

So it doesn't really matter if you meet the criteria for 'professional.' You can still get WGA minimum, and I believe in nearly all cases studios give minimum, even to non-guild writers.
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Old 04-03-2006, 11:32 AM   #8
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Default Re: WGA Minimum: Non-WGA members / Non-US writers

Absolutely.

I wonder how common it is for "professional writers" to leverage this when it comes to options, an area where non-Guild writers are more likely to be underpaid?

That said, how many of the major prodcos are WGA sig anyway. Like you say, studios will almost always pay min, whether it's an option or a sale.

Link to the IAWG Charter for people who are members of affiliated guilds:

http://www.wgc.ca/about/iawg/iawg_charter.html
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Old 04-03-2006, 12:38 PM   #9
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Default Re: WGA Minimum: Non-WGA members / Non-US writers

Quote:
Originally Posted by BROUGHCUT
That said, how many of the major prodcos are WGA sig anyway.
In my (admittedly limited) experience, it doesn't matter becasue my contract is with the studio and not the producer bringing me into the studio. Even option money came from the studio.
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