The Directors Guild of America has been fast-tracking nearly $9 million in foreign levies to 5,000 directors over the past week.
“As production remains suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Guild has continued its work to expedite vital income when it is most needed,” the DGA announced Friday. “Foreign levies are fees collected by foreign countries in part to compensate rights holders for the effects of re-use, copying, rental and retransmission of their films and television programs. This income to members as well as non-member directors was made possible by the DGA’s successful efforts over three decades ago to negotiate agreements with foreign collecting societies, and challenge the studios’ claims to these monies.”
In 2008, the DGA settled a 2006 lawsuit over its practice of collecting foreign levies for directors who aren’t DGA members. The action, filed by helmer William Webb, alleged the DGA did not have the authority to make foreign collections, had not communicated that info to members and had not paid them. The monies are due to copyright holders as compensation for reuse, such as taxes on video rentals, cable retransmissions and purchases of blank videocassettes and DVDs.
“This present situation sheds light on why we fight so hard to advance our members’ rights, and the difference it can make. Similar to our efforts with residuals, the DGA has been working around the clock to expedite distribution of this biannual run of foreign levies when it’s most needed,” said DGA National Executive Director Russell Hollander. “And also similar to residuals, foreign levies are a stream of income that would not have been possible without our Guild’s decades-long fight to financially connect members to the success of their work.”
The DGA said Friday that its foreign levies department has distributed more than $242 million to directors — including more than $28 million to 6,700 non-members — and donated over $3.5 million to the Motion Picture & Television Fund. The DGA currently has more than 18,000 members.