Guild launches search tool for members

The Screen Actors Guild has launched an online search tool for members to track foreign royalties that the guild has collected on their behalf.

Members will be able to log in and see a full-view report of any of the foreign funds collected for them, SAG said Thursday.

“This is one more way in which we are continuing to distribute funds to our members as quickly and efficiently as possible,” said SAG deputy national exec director and general counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland. “SAG is proud of its efforts to locate, claim and distribute foreign royalties for our members. We have distributed millions of dollars of royalty funds that would otherwise have gone unclaimed and been lost to them forever.”

SAG said its Foreign Royalties program has collected $18.1 million for performers and has thus far distributed $8.78 million via more than 273,000 checks to some 76,000 members.

SAG also said that work on its data collection and tracking process began in 2007, adding that the data management engine houses, manages and reports millions of bits of data.

The guild made no mention in the announcement of a class-action lawsuit filed in 2007 by Ken Osmond. The guild’s due to appear Feb. 18 before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Carl West to finalize settlement of the suit over funds collected from countries through mechanisms such as taxes on video sales and rentals to compensate copyright holders for reuse.

That suit alleges that SAG mishandled those foreign levies and lacked authority to oversee them in the first place. SAG has long denied that it has done anything wrong in how it’s handled the foreign levies for American creatives.

The settlement agreement calls for SAG to make its best efforts to distribute the $7.9 million that the guild’s holding; hire an independent consultant to perform a review of the program; and provide for an annual review by a Big Four accounting firm.

A possible roadblock to the settlement emerged last month as SAG, which reached the deal to settle in August, was accused of misrepresenting terms of the settlement in its court filings and communications with class members (Daily Variety, Dec. 7). The assertions by SAG member Eric Hughes included allegations that SAG is concealing its 1992 agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers, which authorizes SAG to collect the foreign funds and provides that the companies and SAG split the performer’s share.

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