Beware of Inappropriate Conduct by Non-Franchised Agencies

Dear Member,

The Guild has received reports that some non-franchised agencies are trying to commission or take packages on deals negotiated after April 12, 2019. In addition, it appears some industry attorneys and managers are complicit in attempts to secure packages and unearned commissions for non-franchised agencies.

Here are some member-reported examples of inappropriate conduct:

  • An agency claims it is due a commission even though the essential deal points were negotiated by other representatives after April 12th.
  • An agency claims the Guild is giving waivers to allow agencies to complete deals on projects they set up prior to April 12th.
  • An agency claims that “most writers” are putting 10% in escrow “until the agency situation resolves itself.” The implication is that the agency will get paid for deals made during the period when it was not authorized to represent writers. Attorneys have also made this false argument to writers, and tried to make acceptance of it a condition of representing new writers.
  • An agency tries to take a package on a new project from a writer under an overall deal.
  • An agency cancels a meeting for a client it no longer represents.
  • An attorney claims he needs the former agency to participate in making a new deal or the attorney will not make the deal, this in violation of the attorney’s fiduciary duty to the writer client.

It’s particularly egregious that certain agents, attorneys and managers are focusing these ploys on younger or less experienced writers, though experienced writers have also been affected.

Working Rule 23 prohibits Guild members from being represented by non-franchised agencies, and that includes paying commissions to those agencies where they are not due. Please contact us immediately if you encounter one of these practices or anything else of concern regarding representation.

There are many agents, attorneys, and managers who respect writers and are playing by the rules. The Guild can provide a list of experienced attorneys and managers who are currently accepting new clients. Additionally, the list of franchised agencies is on the Guild’s website.

If these bad behaviors continue, the Guild will advise the full membership which agencies, law firms, or managers are acting contrary to their fiduciary duties, and we will take the appropriate legal action to protect members’ interests. We are also happy to explain to a particular agency, attorney, or manager what the commission rules are.

In Solidarity,

WGA-Agency Agreement Negotiating Committee, WGAW Board and WGAE Council

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