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SAG Launches Online Foreign Royalties Tracker

Result of lengthy class-action lawsuit led by ”Leave It to Beaver“ star Ken Osmond over missing millions from the guild’s foreign-royalty program

The Screen Actors Guild announced a new online foreign royalties tracker, following a settlement deal with "Leave It to Beaver" star Ken Osmond in which it agreed to conduct an independent audit of its foreign royalties program.

Added to the guild's website Wednesday night, the tracker is the result of an extended legal battle over foreign royalties between the guild and “Leave it to Beaver” actor Ken Osmond. The guild agreed to add the tracker last month — and to pay up to $300,000 in attorney’s fees incurred during the battle.

It gives members the ability to log in and see a full-view report of any foreign royalties collected on their behalf.  

“This is one more way in which we are continuing to distribute funds to our members as quickly and efficiently as possible,” said SAG Deputy National Executive Director and General Counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland. “SAG is proud of its efforts to locate, claim and distribute foreign royalties for our members. We have distributed millions of dollars of royalty funds that would otherwise have gone unclaimed and been lost to them forever.”

The move did not come voluntarily.

TheWrap reported in 2008 that SAG had $25 million in unclaimed residual payments owed to 66,848 actors, both members and non-members of the union, and many of them very famous. The guild claimd they couldn't find those members, but launched a campaign to find them within a few weeks of the publication of TheWrap's story.

The foreign levy, or royalty, money involves taxes from foreign sales of blank and other cassettes and DVDs. The money had been stashed in accounts, quietly forgotten, while the guilds handed half of the proceeds over to the studios.

The Writers Guild, which had the same unpaid funds, settled for $30 million within days of TheWrap publishing embarrassing testimony from a whistleblower indicating the shredding of documents.

SAG did not disclose the size of the settlement. In August Crabtree-Ireland said the guild had paid out $7 million in unpaid royalties to to more than 70,000 individual performers that would otherwise have gone unclaimed and been lost to them forever.”

Here's the guild's announcement:

Screen Actors Guild Launches New Foreign Royalties Tracker
Giving Members Added Online Functionality

LOS ANGELES, (January 27, 2011) — Screen Actors Guild's member service offerings just got another big boost with the online debut of the Guild’s Foreign Royalties Tracker.

SAG’s Foreign Royalties Tracker, an online search tool that launched on the Guild’s website last night, gives members the ability to log in and see a full-view report of any foreign royalties that may have been collected on their behalf.  Not all members will have foreign royalties and thus will not show up in the Tracker. Those members who do have foreign royalties or who wish to find out if they do, can now log into the Tracker on the SAG website and check it out.

“This is one more way in which we are continuing to distribute funds to our members as quickly and efficiently as possible,” said SAG Deputy National Executive Director and General Counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland.

“SAG is proud of its efforts to locate, claim and distribute foreign royalties for our members. We have distributed millions of dollars of royalty funds that would otherwise have gone unclaimed and been lost to them forever,” Crabtree-Ireland added.

Work on the foreign royalties data collection and tracking process began several years ago with the creation of data identification and mapping processes to collect and track foreign royalties payment receipts and distributions. The robust data management engine begun in 2007 now houses, manages and reports millions of bits of data, while the new Foreign Royalties Tracker provides members with an online tool with which to view their personal foreign royalties data record.

Longtime SAG staff member Jo Sisson, who directs the foreign royalties program, says that the application is a boon to busy actors who want to have access to information around the clock.

“What we’re delivering is a great tool for members that gives them 24/7 access to important information. Projects like this really help ensure that we are responsive and continually adding value with applications that work for members,” Sisson said.

“I’m proud of our team here at Screen Actors Guild. We’ve been dedicated to this project from day one and are all thrilled to see it launching. I think the members are going to find it very helpful and will use it often,” Sisson added.

“Foreign Royalties Tracker has an efficient and user-friendly interface that is easy to understand, and easy to use,” said SAG Chief Information Officer Erin Griffin. Griffin, whose IT team handled the data management and backend programming for the application added that the project is “a good case study of smart planning and intelligent design that uses technology to enhance our interactions with members.”

The Guild’s Foreign Royalties program has collected $18,112,887.69  in foreign royalties for performers and has thus far distributed $8,778,291.10 in more than 273,000 checks, to more than 76,000 individuals.Members who want to see what the Guild’s Foreign Royalties Tracker is tracking for them should log in to their member account at SAG.org. If they don’t yet have an online account, they can register for an account by clicking “Registration” on the top right hand section of the SAG.org home page.

For technical help with the Foreign Royalties Tracker online tool, members can email webhelp@sag.org or call (323) 549-6789.

Members with questions about the collection and disbursement of Foreign Royalties can email ForeignRoyalties@sag.org or call (323) 549-6595.

To find out more about the Guild’s foreign royalties program, visit the foreign royalties page at http://www.sag.org/content/foreign-royalties.