This is indeed a big news! The Screenwriters Association has announced a Legal Aid Policy to help its member screenwriters fight their cases, related to Copyright infringement, breach of confidentiality, payments and credits; in court. This is a step in tune with SWA’s commitment to help its members defend their intellectual property, and get their due credits and remuneration.
Under this policy, the Association will pay 50 percent of the lawyer’s fee, or a definite amount (whichever is lower), as per the recommendations of its Dispute Settle Committee (DSC) and a panel of expert lawyers. The detailed guidelines for the same are being worked out. This provision will give power to aggrieved members seek justice legally, in a situation when they might want to approach the court but lack resources, after the DSC has decided in their favour.
It is also important to note that this new move is in addition with SWA appointing a full-time Copyright expert lawyer as its Legal Officer, at its office in Andheri West, to offer legal consultation to members absolutely free of cost. (All members seeking an appointment with SWA’s Legal Officer for legal consultation are requested to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org ). Moreover, SWA’s legal cell is also in contact with copyright lawyers who’re willing to offer their services at concessional rates to screenwriters.
The need for legal aid was being felt for a long time. The DSC had recommended for it as there have been cases in which the committee would feel limited in helping out the complainant members who have been wronged by producers, directors or even fellow members. In fact, there have been more than four dozen cases, pending with the erstwhile Joint-DSC-Committee formed by SWA and the Federation of Western Indian Cine Employees (FWICE). After SWA disaffiliated itself from the Federation, the need to strengthen the DSC also seemed immediate.