Rafay Says: The Curious Case of Missing Royalties

Rafay Says

The Writers Guild of America went on strike in a unique and eye-opening situation, causing production delays for major studios like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney. Shortly after, the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists joined the strike in solidarity, strengthening the protection of creative artists’ rights.

An Intriguing Scenario – Support Pours In!

The Directors Guild of America and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists, and Allied Crafts of the United States, its Territories, and Canada (IATSE) also supported the cause. As a member of IATSE 411 Canada, I can confirm that productions are currently halted, and international guilds, including some from the UK, have also joined the movement.

The scenario is intriguing as writers and actors fight to preserve their wage structure and prevent Artificial Intelligence from taking over script and screenplay. Performers are advocating against AI using their likeness in the entertainment medium.

Considering the Local Industry

This situation prompted me to consider the local industry, involving entities like the United Producers Association, Directors Guild Pakistan, Actors Collective Trust Pakistan, and the Screen Writers Association of Pakistan.

Such a scenario could unite the guilds to safeguard the rights of creative artists. While the local industry is far from AI dominance, securing intellectual property and royalty rights for producers, directors, artists, and content writers remains a significant challenge.

Not too long ago, the hashtag #RoyaltiesForArtists trended on social media, initiated by artists seeking government support to pass a bill introducing royalties and protecting artists’ rights. Royalties are legally binding payments for ongoing asset usage, including copyrighted works and franchises. In contrast, Intellectual Property refers to creations of the mind like inventions, literary and artistic works, designs, and commercial symbols.

An issue arises with independent producers who capitalize on the work of independent artists, directors, and writers. The lack of checks on intellectual property and royalties occurs when specific networks purchase the work through official contracts that exempt them from paying royalties. Networks may subsequently air the content multiple times, sell it to streaming platforms, or exhibit it internationally without the original creators receiving royalties.

How to Address These Challenges?

To address these challenges, creative artists and guilds must unite to advocate for their financial well-being and secure royalty rights. Through the guilds, contracts can be improved to protect artists’ interests and suggest changes to network-owned contracts that currently lack this protection.

The momentum of #RoyaltiesForCreativeArtists must continue, and it’s crucial to involve local and national assemblies in consultations through effective guilds. A potential strike involving creative artists and guilds may be necessary to claim the unpaid hefty royalties. Though it may disrupt production, the tight-knit industry will feel its impact due to halted payments. However, in the current scenario, existing payments sometimes take over a year or more to release. Such actions are essential for protecting intellectual property and royalty rights.

We have to come together to resume the #RoyaltiesForCreativeArtists movement, making it an effective international endeavour, or gradually struggle into the hands of an AI takeover. No Royalties; no Intellectual Property protection and more AI. The choice lies in the hands of creative artists.


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