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SAG settles foreign levies lawsuit

August 13, 2010 |  3:06 pm

The Hollywood guilds' long-running legal battle over the distribution of foreign royalties has come to an end.

The Screen Actors Guild said Friday that it settled a case filed in September 2007 by "Leave It to Beaver" star Ken Osmond, alleging that the union withheld so-called foreign levy funds from him and other actors.

Foreign governments apply levies on the sale of blank videotapes, cable transmissions and video rentals to compensate performers for reuse of their work. The funds are sent to Hollywood guilds from various collection societies.

SAG declined to comment on the terms of the settlement, but the agreement was said to be similar to those reached in the last two years by the Writers Guild of America and the Directors Guild of America, which also were sued over their handling of foreign levies. The settlements gave the guilds a deadline for disbursing the funds and required them to maintain an online database where users could check to see if they were owed money.

"Screen Actors Guild is proud of its efforts to claim and distribute foreign royalties on behalf of our members,'' said SAG Deputy National Executive Director and general counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland. "Since the inception of our program we have distributed more than $7 million in royalty funds to more than 70,000 individual performers that would otherwise have gone unclaimed and been lost to them forever. We are pleased to have reached this tentative settlement and will continue our efforts to distribute funds as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

SAG said it has about $9 million in undistributed foreign levies.

-- Richard Verrier