Foreign Copyright Levies
Foreign copyright levies are funds received by the WGA on behalf of U.S. writers. Foreign collection societies send the WGA taxes and levies imposed by foreign governments for the benefit of theatrical and television authors. The primary source of these monies is “private copy” taxation for home video recording of television broadcasts. The taxes are levied on sales of blank videocassettes and/or VCRs. Based on allocation information provided by the collection societies, disbursement of these funds is then made to writers.
Foreign levies are fees collected in some foreign countries to compensate rights holders for the copying, rental and retransmission of their films and television programs. The rights holders under foreign law include the “authors” of motion pictures and television programs.
The Writers Guild of America West operates a foreign levies program on behalf of both the WGA East and the WGA West.
The Guild makes these payments based on information provided to it by the foreign collection societies. This information is sometimes incomplete, and multiple years’ payments are frequently bundled in a single remittance.
The Guild recently published a comprehensive review of the finances of the Guild’s foreign levy program during its 20 years of operations. The Report was prepared by KPMG, an international accounting firm, and provides an annual breakdown of the funds collected and distributed by the foreign levies program since its inception. You may view the KPMG report on the WGAW’s Foreign Levies website, which also contains the following features, as periodically updated:
- A title look-up, allowing users to search the list of projects (most of them non-WGA) for which the Guild is holding foreign levies but has not identified the writer or lawful heir.
- A writer look-up, allowing users to search the list of writers (most of them non-members; many of them deceased) for whom we are holding foreign levies but lack current contact information.
- A registration page, allowing writers or their heirs to register non-WGA titles which they believe may in the future earn foreign levies.
- Comprehensive information about the history and operation of the program, including the recent court settlement.
- Links and other contact information for the Foreign Levies Department.
If you have further questions, please contact the WGAW Foreign Levies Department at email@example.com or call 323-782-4687.