April 2008

April 15, 2008

Foreign Levy Update

Here's good news and bad news. The Directors Guild of America has settled its lawsuit over foreign levies with director William Webb ("Delta Fever"). In announcing the settlement yesterday, the guild agreed to allow an outside accounting firm to conduct an independent audit of its foreign levies program, and to publish information about unpaid levies on its website. That's the good news; perhaps we'll learn something about this whole process. The bad news is that even with this agreement, I think we're unlikely to learn the full story about what strange alchemy was concocted between this guild and the studios - the member companies of the Motion Picture Association -- to allow for nearly 20 years of an entirely opaque practice in handing out the money gleaned from taxes on video rentals and blank DVDs and videocassettes abroad. Here's Dave McNary's story in Variety today, well and truly buried on the trade paper's website. One more thing: in announcing the settlement, the DGA said it had distributed $48 million to member directors, and another $4.9 million to non-member directors. Well, there's an info nugget, anyway.

The other two lawsuits, against the Writers Guild and the Screen Actors Guild, continue to move forward.  We will continue to share what we learn.