Advocacy Update from the RWA Board


The RWA Board is making a renewed commitment to provide information to members about policy issues happening outside of RWA that could impact writers and our industry. 

We view this as a vital piece of RWA’s advocacy work. Further, we recognize that there is a lot of information, and some misinformation, available on matters such as how a Supreme Court case on copyright might affect authors, and we all only have so much time to stay on top of the issues that may matter to our careers now or in the future. It is our goal to ensure you have the information you need to make career decisions. 

What will this advocacy look like? In most cases when an issue arises, we will provide summary information along with links to additional sources with more in-depth explanations. Other times we may issue a call to members to take an action. In some cases, the RWA Board may vote for the organization to take a public position on an issue. 

Please read on for more information about current issues. 

Ongoing Advocacy

Amazon

RWA's Executive Director and Deputy Executive Director have monthly conversations with Amazon to discuss broad areas of concern such as scammers, advertising issues, miscategorization, and more. When we have concrete information to report, we will do so. Members who have specific issues with Amazon or other retailers may contact memberadvocacy@rwa.org and staff will review the matter.


Current Issues

South Dakota v. Wayfair


Summary:
The Supreme Court handed down this decision in June 2018 but there is a lot of confusion about what it does. The case discusses the criteria under which a remote or online retailer might be liable for the collection of sales tax even if the retailer does not have a physical presence in the state. A physical presence used to be required. It is not now. 

Potential member impact: This case conceivably could impact authors who sell their books at events or through their websites, depending if the criteria are met. 

More information: Review the following links for an explanation of the potential issue, the criteria that must be met, and effective dates for each state.
South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc.: New sales tax rules for remote (online and off-line) sellers
What do I need to know about the Wayfair case and economic nexus?

WGA and ATA Negotiations

We preface this by saying: The Writers Guild of America (WGA) is a labor union. RWA is a trade association. Those entities are handled differently by the IRS and there are limits on what each can do.

Summary: The Artists' Managers Basic Agreement (AMBA) was an agreement between the WGA and the Association of Talent Agents (ATA) that governed how agents represented writers. In order for an agent to represent WGA members, the agent had to sign the AMBA. The WGA called for a renegotiation of the AMBA, but could not reach an agreement with the ATA, and the AMBA expired. The main point of contention is over a practice of packaging, which is when an agent bundles a script, along with the actors, directors, etc., to sell the project to television or as a movie. 

Potential member impact: While this may not impact most of our members, this practice is long-standing and is regularly used in the sale of YA projects.

More information: As of this posting (April 24, 2019), WGA and ATA have still not reached an agreement. Review the links for an in-depth explanation of the issue. 
Writers Vs. Agents: 12 Things You Need to Know to Understand the WGA-ATA Standoff
Hollywood Writers, Talent Agents Face Breakdown as Conduct Negotiations Fail
Writers Guild of America Announces Lawsuit to End Talent Agencies’ Conflicted Business Practices
The WGA vs. ATA Standoff Explained: What is Happening in Hollywood Between Writers and Their Agents?

If you have any questions, please contact RWA President HelenKay Dimon at president@rwa.org.

DISCLAIMER:  The information provided in this statement is not legal or career advice and is not intended to take the place of legal or career advice. The materials and resources provided are for informational purposes only. Members should contact their attorney to obtain legal advice on this or any other legal matter. Members should contact their agents or other career professionals for individual career advice.