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Writers Organisations Information

Jacqua Page was a volunteer at Arts Law.

Australian Society of Authors (ASA)

The ASA is the professional association for Australian literary creators. Formed over 40 years ago the ASA's primary objective is promoting and protecting the rights of authors and illustrators. This has been achieved by establishing a number of schemes and successfully lobbying governments to introduce or amend legislation in areas such as copyright, moral rights and taxation. On an individual level, the ASA provides information, advice, professional development and advocacy services to its members. Membership is open to writers and illustrators whether published or not.

While successfully protecting the rights of authors and illustrators as a whole, the organisation was actively involved in the creation of the Copyright Agency Limited, which now distributes millions of dollars in royalties each year to authors and publishers for the photocopying of their work. Other campaigns resulted in Public Lending Rights and Education Lending Rights, and the founding of the Australian Copyright Council, which gives free advice on copyright matters. The ASA also played a key role in persuading government to introduce Moral Rights legislation, which guarantees authors and other artists the right to have their work attributed to them and the right to the integrity of their work.

There are a number of ways in which the ASA provides direct information and advice to members. A free-call telephoneservice is available for members seeking recommendations in regards to writing, copyright and publishing. More specifically, the Contract Advisory Service offers quick and inexpensive assistance in comprehending all types of publishing contracts. Members pay a subsidised flat fee per contract for an expert who will examine the document clause-by-clause, provide answers to specific questions and a written report. The ASA has negotiated standard contracts and agreements, which are available in print form and set out the minimum terms for pay and conditions that the ASA find acceptable for writers and illustrators.  In addition, the ASA maintains a Fighting Fund to defend the rights of copyright holders as well as providing assistance to members through their Benevolent Fund.

Members receive the ASA journal and regular newsletters throughout the year, which provide information about mentorships, literary events, current issues and recent ASA publications.

For more information visit www.asauthors.org or phone (02) 9318 0877.

Australian Writers Guild (AWG)

Established in 1962 to promote and protect the interest and standing of writers, the AWG is recognised throughout the industry in Australia as being the voice of performance writers, that is, writers for film, television, radio, theatre, video and new media. Through lobbying governments on issues such as broadcasting legislation, moral rights, free trade, copyright and the provision of adequate support for funding bodies, the AWG serves as another important political voice for Australian writers.  The AWG also provides members with access to a wealth of information, publication and services dealing with legal, editorial and professional development issues.

The key difference between the ASA and AWG is that the latter is concerned with the guardianship of works and the development of writers who originate or adapt written material specifically for performance. Support for the craft has been achieved through liaising with corporate and government bodies such as the Australia Council, Australian Film Commission and the ABC on issues such as funding and the preservation of Australian content.  

Like the ASA, the AWG has negotiated minimum basic writers' agreements with major producers of television, radio, stage and multimedia and provides member with free access to model agreements and minimum rates for all areas of performance writing.  The AWG provides legal assistance to members regarding disputes, including a review of individual contracts. An important feature of the Guild is the Script Registration service, which provides protection of their financial members' works. Each script is assigned a unique number in their electronic tracking system and is archived in a document storage vault for 10 years. The AWG also offers a Script Assessment service, which enables writers to seek assistance and advice on their work from fully credited professional writers.

Members are able to keep abreast of industry information through the fortnightly newsletter and the new quarterly magazine Storyline. Additionally, the AWG is a member of the International Affiliation of Writers Guilds enabling it to pass on information and developments that pertain to writers' rights and copyright issues from a global perspective. 

For more information visit www.awg.com.au or telephone 02 9281 1554.

Writers Centres

Each state and territory has a Writers Centre, which in general is dedicated to promoting literary works and protecting the rights and interests of writers.   A common feature of writers' centres is to provide venues for events such as book launches, readings, literary evenings and lectures. In addition, they may assist writers by providing general professional advice and literary resources. The centres provide professional development in the regions by offering seminars, courses and workshops. For instance, the NT Writers' Centre is dedicated to new initiatives, such as encouraging the participation of young writers, Indigenous writers and writers from non-English speaking backgrounds. Writers centre membership benefits range through mentorships, manuscript assessment services, promotion of published works and discounts with local booksellers. On the whole, these organisations act as resource centres to support the development of writers of all ages, experience, and genres.

ACT Writers Centre
(02) 6262 9191
www.actwriters.org.au

NSW Writers Centre
02 9555 9757
www.nswwriterscentre.org.au

NT Writers Centre
Darwin 08 8941 2651 or Alice Springs 08 8952 3810
www.ntwriters.com.au

Queensland Writers Centre
(07) 3839 1243
www.qwc.asn.au

South Australian Writers Centre
(08) 8223 7662
www.sawriters.on.net

Tasmanian Writers Centre
(03) 6224 0029
www.tasmanianwriters.org

Victorian Writers Centre
(03) 9654 9068
www.writers-centre.org

Western Australian State Literature Centre
www.writerswritingwa.org

There are also numerous other societies, fellowships and groups, which offer resources and assistance to Australian writers. Unfortunately we are unable to discuss them all and the excellent work and support they offer. Most writers' centre websites provide links to organisations in particular states. There is also a useful list of writers' organisations available at www.cultureandrecreation.gov.au

Collecting Societies

Collecting societies provide another mechanism for protecting the rights and interests of literary creators.  Collecting societies are not-for-profit organisations which license and administer certain uses of copyright material on behalf of their member copyright owners. The licence fees are then collected and distributed to members.  Most Australian collecting societies have reciprocal affiliations with collecting societies overseas, which enables the licensing of works of Australian copyright owners in other countries.

Copyright Agency Ltd (CAL)

CAL is an Australian not-for-profit copyright management company that has distributed over $230 million to its members since 1989. CAL acts as a non-exclusive agent to licence the copying of works controlled by its members, including publishers, authors, journalists, visual artists and photographers.   

Under the Copyright Act 1968, CAL is a declared collecting society for copyright owners managing the statutory licence schemes. Those schemes allow educational institutions, government agencies and certain other bodies to copy material as long as they pay a fee [equitable remuneration] to CAL.

CAL also offers voluntary licences to corporations, press clipping services, not-for-profit organisations and places of worship. The voluntary licence schemes enable organisations to make copies of protected material without having to seek permission from individual copyright owners. The fees CAL collects are then distributed to its members, thus ensuring authors receive remuneration for the copying of their work.

CAL also provides news and information about developments affecting creators and lobbies and otherwise promotes the interests of its members on legal and policy issues.

For more information call (02) 9394 7600 or visit www.copyright.com.au

AWGACS

The Australian Writers' Guild Authorship Collecting Society was set up by the Australian Writer's Guild in 1996. It is a not-for-profit copyright collecting society, which collects and distributes authorship monies from European collecting societies on behalf of Australian and New Zealand screenwriters.  The money is collected by the European society for the private copying of authors works overseas and is paid to AWGAGS on the basis that the fees will be passed on to the screenwriter. AWGACS submits a claim, on behalf of the writer, for all the film and TV shows that have been broadcast in that country in the previous year. 

Collecting societies rarely accept individual registrations from overseas members therefore the AWGACS provides members with this important access to overseas affiliate societies. Additionally, European societies will not pay AWGACS unless the name of the screenwriter is known. It is therefore essential that all screenwriters send AWGACS a list of the works they have authored. Membership of AWGACS is free to members of the Australian and New Zealand Writers Guilds.

For more information contact the AWG on 02 9281 1554 or visit www.awg.com.au

Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA)

If you are a journalist or freelance writer working in the media then you should seriously consider joining MEAA. MEAA is a union registered with the Australian Industrial relations Commission that represents members who work in the communication and entertainment industries. MEAA has negotiated a number of industrial awards and agreements that are designed to protect the rights and interests of journalists. These are available for viewing online. Members also have access to a member's area, which provides additional resources and information. MEAA has branches in most state capitals.

For more information visit www.alliance.org.au

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