Signatory Producer and Writer Status
The Writers Guild of Canada (the “WGC”) represents English-language writers working in film, television, broadcast, and digital media production in Canada. The WGC’s primary collective bargaining agreement is the Writers Guild of Canada Independent Production Agreement (the “IPA”). The IPA places minimum requirements on producers who engage WGC writers. In most cases, WGC writers are only permitted to provide their services to producers who are signatories to, and therefore bound by the terms of, the IPA.
But what happens when a non-WGC writer is engaged to provide services to a non-signatory producer, but decides to join WGC before the services are complete? Is the writer allowed to keep working on the production? Is the producer required to become a signatory to the IPA? This blog will answer these questions and consider the impacts of the WGC in some common situations.
Non-WGC writer, non-signatory producer
Where a writer is not a WGC member and the producer is not a signatory to the IPA, the parties do not need to comply with any WGC or IPA requirements. The parties are free to negotiate their own terms.
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WGC writer, signatory producer
Where the writer is a WGC member and the producer is an IPA signatory, their engagement is generally subject to the minimum requirements of the IPA. The terms offered by the producer cannot be less favourable than what is set out in the IPA.
Non-WCG writer, signatory producer
A producer who is a signatory to the IPA is free to engage non-WGC writers; however, the producer remains beholden to the terms of the IPA and must comply with its minimum requirements. The writer must sign a declaration confirming their decision to not become a WGC member at that time. The writer will be treated as a non-WGC member, but the engagement will be governed by the IPA and the writer may not receive less than what a similar WGC member would receive.
WGC writer, non-signatory producer
As a requirement of membership, a WGC writer may not agree to provide writing services to a non-signatory producer. But what happens when a non-WGC writer enters into a contract to provide writing services to a non-signatory producer, but joins the WGC before the services are complete? In this scenario, the writer can complete their services pursuant to the original contract.
If the writing services have already been completed, then the contract can continue as a non-union production and the original terms agreed upon between the producer and writer will stand, even if they are less favourable than those set out in the IPA.
However, if the producer wishes to engage the writer to provide any additional writing services (for example, a rewrite or a polish) then the producer must become a signatory to the IPA or the writer is prohibited from providing those services. To proceed, the producer must sign a Voluntary Recognition Agreement whereby the producer agrees that the additional writing services will governed by the relevant terms of the IPA.
For other legal information for writers, publishers, and producers, we recommend you visit our blog on Collaborating with Artists and Other Writers.
© 2022 Edwards Creative Law, LLP
Updated to June 23, 2022
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* This blog is for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Please contact Edwards Creative Law or another lawyer, if you wish to apply these concepts to your specific circumstances.
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