Protect Yourself Against Free Rewrites – Know Your Rights
FREE REWRITES ARBITRATION
In 2004, an arbitrator ruled that producers are NOT agents of the studios. Thus if a producer asks a writer to make changes to a draft, the studio is under no obligation to pay for those changes unless the writer delivers the completed literary material to the person authorized to accept delivery in the writing contract. If a writer wants to be paid, he or she should deliver the draft to the executive named in the writer's contract and demand payment for the delivered material.
READ THE RULING (.pdf)
THE WRITER HAS THE RIGHT TO DECIDE WHEN TO DELIVER
At last. You're done with your draft. And you finally have time now to jot down some thoughts for your WGA Awards acceptance speech. However, you are then told that your draft is not ready for “official” delivery and you are being pressured to do further “tweaking.” What are your rights?
Under the MBA, it is the writer alone who has the right to determine when literary material is ready for delivery and payment is due. It's one thing for a writer to voluntarily seek notes as part of the collaborative process. However, it is quite another for a producer, studio executive or director to demand uncompensated writing.
What if the producer tells you the studio isn't going to like your current draft if you insist on delivering it without further work?
Under the MBA, payment cannot be contingent upon subjective criteria, i.e., whether or not the Company approves of your literary material. What the MBA ensures is that it is still your decision whether or not to deliver.
YOUR CONTRACT MUST IDENTIFY THE PERSON AUTHORIZED TO REQUEST ADDITIONAL WRITING SERVICES
Who can ask you to perform additional writing services?
Go grab your contract and look up who is authorized by the Company to ask for additional work. This information is required by the MBA to be in your contract. If no one is designated or if you have yet to receive a contract, please contact the WGAW Legal Department at (323) 782-4521 for further assistance.
What if you don't see this person's name in your contract? Or else this person is named, and you want to deliver your current step?
If the person asking is not the person authorized to request additional services, the Company will take the position that they are not obligated to pay you for any more work that you do.
If the person is authorized to request additional services, you should make it clear that you are delivering the script and being asked to commence your next step.
YOUR CONTRACT MUST IDENTIFY THE PERSON AUTHORIZED TO ACCEPT DELIVERY
How do you make it clear that you're delivering?
First, your contract must inform you of the person authorized to accept delivery. Deliver to this person and send them an invoice. If no one is designated or if you have yet to receive a contract, please contact the WGAW Legal Department at (323) 782-4521 for further assistance.
You followed all of these steps and you're still waiting to be paid. What should you do?
Under the MBA payment is due within 48 hours after delivery. Interest at the rate of 1.5% per month accrues on any unpaid initial compensation, starting 7 days after delivery.
Contact the WGAW Legal Department at (323) 782-4521 as soon as you realize that you have not been paid on time or use the online Late Pay Form.