Round-up of Media News from June 2008
17 June 2008
Changes to Channel 4 Commissioning Agreement approved by PACT Council
The Pact Council has approved Channel 4’s changes to its Commissioning Agreement regarding various “trust” issues. The full text of the Agreement is on the Pact website and is available for members.
The main changes include a new Producer’s warranty stating that nothing in the commissioned programme (or arising from production or editing) will mislead the public so as to cause harm or offence or materially mislead Channel 4.
The provisions regarding publicity have been expanded. Channel 4’s right of approval over UK publicity applies until transmission of the last episode and approval will not be given if Channel 4 thinks such publicity will put the producer in breach of any of its warranties. Also after transmission of the last episode the producer must still consult with Channel 4 about publicity and demonstrate that it will not be in breach of warranty.
Lastly, the Channel 4 Compliance Manual and Viewer Trust Guidelines have been replaced with the Independent Producers Handbook. Programmes must comply with the terms of the Handbook and all personnel must be familiar with them. Channel 4 has a right to edit a programme to ensure compliance if the Producer fails to do so.
Memorandum of Understanding signed over “Orphan Works”
Representatives of libraries, archives and rights holders have signed an EU Memorandum of Understanding regarding orphan works. See full text here.
An “orphan work” is a work by an author who cannot be identified or traced. The Memorandum recommends for the adoption by member states certain methods of searching national databases and rights clearance centres for orphan works. Such works could then be cleared for use as well as making them available for digitisation and so broadening access to them online by the public.
Thousands of orphan works are left unused at the moment because of the legal uncertainty regarding rights clearance.
AMPTP and AFTRA reach tentative deal
A tentative three-year deal has been stuck between the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (“AMPTP”) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (“AFTRA”).
One of the major issues between the parties was the granting of permissions for the re-use of artists’ images on the internet. Rather than having to seek permission in each case the studios wanted a blanket permission to use clips on the internet.
Each side has accepted that within 90 days of agreeing the final contract a system will be devised under which artists will give either advance permission or a blanket permission for clip usage on the internet for a whole series, in return for compensation.
Talks between AMPTP and the Screen Actors Guild continue.
New registration scheme introduced
Phonographic Performance Limited (“PPL”) is the licensing body that administers copyright in sound recordings on behalf of its members. Members include UK and international record companies as well as individual performers.
PPL is now offering to act on behalf of those who commission music, such as for a TV programme or film. The music in question has to exist in recorded form but does not have to have been subject to commercial release. A sound master created for a film or TV soundtrack would therefore be covered. PPL can then licence the use of such music by third parties and collect royalties for the owner.
Producers who do commission music and retain the copyright in the recording should consider registering it with PPL. Please see the PPL website for further information.
New points immigration based system in force from autumn 2008
The existing work permit system for employing overseas nationals will be replaced by the new points based system from this autumn. Potential employers of overseas workers will need to register with the UK Borders Agency.
Workers will be divided into five “tiers”: Tier 1 highly skilled, entrepreneurs and investors; Tier 2 skilled workers; Tier 3 low skilled workers; Tier 4 students; and Tier 5 temporary workers including performers and creative workers.
It is expected that Tiers 2 and 5 will be launched in October or November this year.
Tier 2 replaces the current work permit system and is for skilled workers with an offer of skilled employment from a UK employer. Employers wishing to sponsor such a worker must ensure they meet the requisite conditions of skills, experience and salary criteria under the system.
The vast majority of overseas workers employed by producers are likely to fall into tier 5. There will be a self-certification scheme for employers to sponsor tier 5 workers. Sponsors must adhere to the Codes of Practice issued by the UK Border Agency. There is a Code of Practice for performers and creative workers working in TV and film entering the UK under tier 5.
Certificates of sponsorship for tier 2 workers can be extended beyond 12 months and can lead to settlement if the worker remains in the UK for sufficient time. The tier 5 procedure is a faster one but is temporary as certificates cannot be extended beyond 12 months and cannot lead to settlement. Care must be taken by employers to use the correct certification system. If it is likely that an individual will be needed to work beyond 12 months they should consider using tier 2.
Employers wishing to sponsor overseas nationals must first register with the UK Borders Agency.
There are details of the new system on the Home Office website.
© Davenport Lyons 2008. All rights reserved.
This document reflects the law and practice as at June 2008. It is general in nature, and does not purport in any way to be comprehensive or a substitute for specialist legal advice in individual circumstances.