DGA OKs agreements for ‘Net productions

WGA, SAG have made no moves yet

The national board of the Directors Guild of America has approved new single-picture agreements for productions made for the Internet, in the first major move by a Hollywood guild into such deals.

“The DGA is committed to nurturing the development of Internet productions utilizing DGA talent while at the same time protecting the economic interests and creative rights of our members,” said Jay D. Roth, the union’s national executive director. “These new agreements will do that by allowing Guild members to be protected by a DGA contract while working on current projects for the Internet.”

The new agreements, which were developed internally by the DGA rather than through formal negotiations with Internet producers, have been designed along the lines of the DGA’s Low Budget Film Agreements. Those agreements allow directors to use other DGA members and still be protected by the collective bargaining agreement.

Warren Adler, DGA’s associate national executive director, said the new agreements have been developed in only a few months following informal discussions with Internet producers.

“There’s really been kind of an explosion in this area,” he said, adding that the agreements have been designed to be “user-friendly” for producers.

Both the Writers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild have negotiated “made-for-the-Internet” with individual producers but have not yet promulgated a standard contract. A WGA rep said the guild is exploring its options while SAG’s Hollywood executive director Leonard Chassman said the union would continue to negotiate individual contracts but also revisit the issue.

Reuse of material on the Internet has emerged as an unresolved issue for SAG and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists in their negotiations with advertisers. And the WGA announced ratification Thursday of a public broadcasting agreement for freelancers with royalty payment of 15% of minimums for shows placed on the Internet after the writer’s broadcast licensing royalties have expired.

The DGA, which has already negotiated a small number of Internet contracts with signatories, said it hopes the new agreements will encourage the world of direct-to-Internet productions by allowing Internet companies to become signatory to a DGA agreement.

The org has also said the new agreements will be available for only an unspecified limited time until the economics of Internet production and distribution become clearer. There will be no residual compensation for free Internet use, the DGA noted, but at the same time, “these agreements will help the Guild monitor economic developments in this area.”

The DGA said the agreements will be “highly flexible” in areas of budgetary concerns but also serve the purpose of protecting DGA members in terms of basic creative rights, credits and pension and health benefits.

The new agreements require that signatory companies provide DGA members with a deal memo. They also set up rules for residual compensation should the project subsequently move to other markets such as theatrical, television and homevideo.

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