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Code of Credits - Rules Governing Arbitration

Please note that these are the Producers Guild rules for the resolution of disputes concerning producing credits, and NOT the rules governing the certification of motion picture credits via the Producers Mark.  The rules governing the Producers Mark can be found HERE.  

  1. SCOPE OF THESE RULES

    1. Rules Applicable to PGA Arbitrations These Rules shall govern any dispute submitted to arbitration by parties (defined below) who agree in writing to provide for arbitration by the Producers Guild of America. These Rules and any amendment of them shall apply in the form existing at the time the Producers Guild of America (”PGA”) sends the Notification of Arbitration (see section II. G. below).

    2. Resolution of Disputes Concerning Credits These Rules set forth an economical and expeditious procedure by which an owner or producer (”Petitioner”) of a theatrical motion picture or television program (”production”) may petition the PGA for review of the producing credits for the purpose of determining whether or not the production’s proposed credits deviate from the PGA’s Sanctioned Credits (defined below), and so as to avoid deceptive advertising or attribution practices. "Owner” means the owner of the copyright, production company, studio, distributor or other entity having the authority to designate the credits appearing on the production. The PGA makes this process available to any producer or Owner, regardless of her/his membership in or professional affiliation with the PGA. A PGA Arbitrator (defined below) will only alter the Owner’s proposed credits through a determination that the Owner has made an erroneous or deceptive use of the PGA’s Sanctioned Credits in light of the producing functions actually performed. Based on such determination, the PGA Arbitrator (defined below) is empowered to award the proper producing credits. The jurisdiction of the arbitrator is limited exclusively to the PGA Sanctioned Credits. The determination of the PGA Arbitrator shall be binding on the Petitioner, Owner and all the parties with whom Owner has a contractual relationship related to the production, subject only to the appellate procedures described in Article IV below.

    3. PGA Sanctioned Credits Only the following producing credits shall be subject to arbitration pursuant to these Rules: "PRODUCED BY” for theatrical motion pictures and "EXECUTIVE PRODUCER” for television programs (referred to as "PGA Sanctioned Credits”):

    4. Credit Position In accordance with current industry practice, the primary producer credit shall occupy no less than third position within the credit roll, subordinate only to the credits of the director(s) and writer(s), respectively.

  2. PROCEDURES FOR PREPARING FOR ARBITRATION

    1. The Parties to the Arbitration A PGA arbitration may be initiated by either of two parties:

      1. A Producer (”Producer-Petitioner”) may demand arbitration if s/he rendered producing services on a production and is contractually entitled to receive a PGA sanctioned credit on that production.

      2. An Owner (or an Owner’s authorized executive or officer) may demand arbitration in any circumstance involving PGA Sanctioned Credits on a production, or to preclude the possibility of legal action due to deceptive credit attribution (”Owner-Petitioner”).

    2. The Arbitration Petition To commence an arbitration, the Owner-Petitioner or Producer-Petitioner must submit an arbitration petition and other required documentation to the PGA (to the attention of the PGA Administrator) at 8530 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 400, Beverly Hills, California 90211 (”Arbitration Petition”). The Arbitration Petition shall provide the following:

      1. the name and address of the Owner, including the telephone and fax numbers of the Owner’s appropriate contact persons;

      2. the Owner’s suggested list of the PGA Sanctioned Credits on the production (if available);

      3. the names, phone and fax numbers, and email addresses for relevant parties to the arbitration, along with other primary participants on the production (e.g., writer(s), director(s), post production supervisor(s), and the key production executive and business affairs executive in charge of the production);

      4. a reasonable sampling of the daily "call sheets” and "production reports” issued during the production; and

      5. Petitioner’s suggested changes to the Owner’s list of the PGA Sanctioned Credits.

    3. Productions Eligible for Arbitration Productions eligible for review shall include English language motion pictures and television programs intended for exploitation in the United States of America and where the Owner concerned has an established place of business within the United States. This arbitration process is not available for review of non-English-language productions or other foreign productions not having a United States distributor. The medium and genre in which the production is initially released in the United States shall determine which PGA Sanctioned Credits apply to the production.

    4. Timeliness The Petitioner must submit the Arbitration Petition sufficiently in advance of the completion of the final answer print and duplicating materials, so that any proposed revision to the producing credits may be included in the production (and all marketing and publicity materials). The PGA will not accept an arbitration submitted after the completion and delivery of the production, unless such review is agreed to by the Owner or mandated by legal authority.

    5. The PGA Administrator The PGA shall designate a representative to act as the "PGA Administrator.” The PGA Administrator shall perform all acts and carry out all responsibilities set forth in these Rules for the PGA and all other acts reasonably required for the efficient administration of these arbitration procedures.

    6. Mediated Resolution After receipt of the Arbitration Petition and supporting documentation, if the PGA Administrator determines that a mediated resolution is readily available, the PGA Administrator may contact the parties with a recommendation and thus avoid a formal arbitration. If all parties agree in writing to the PGA Administrator’s mediated resolution, it shall be final and binding on all parties, and have the same legal significance as an Arbitration Award (defined below).

    7. Notification of Arbitration The PGA shall notify the Owner, the Petitioners and all producers designated by either the Owners or Petitioners as having entitlement to a PGA Sanctioned Credit, of a pending arbitration (”Notification of Arbitration”) and include the Arbitrators List (described below). At or about the same time, the PGA shall do the following: (i) request that all producers designated by the Petitioner complete and return in an expedited fashion their own full statements concerning the actual services they performed on the production (the PGA has Qualification Forms to aid them in this process); (ii) request that the Owner provide a brief explanation for the type and order of credits assigned, ideally with reference to job functions performed, as well as provide the names, phone and fax numbers, and email addresses for all those persons with whom the Owner, its assignor, assignee or licensee, had contracted for PGA Sanctioned Credits on the production; and (iii) contact and send by email or fax Third Party Verification Forms (pre-printed and available at the PGA) to various participants involved with the production. Petitioner and other contractual parties consent to, and will not interfere with, the PGA contacting such third parties to obtain information and evidence for the arbitration process.

    8. Selection of an Arbitrator

      1. The PGA Administrator shall submit to all parties a list (ÒArbitrators ListÓ) of potential Arbitrators. The Arbitrators List shall be composed of established producers with substantial experience, with each individual possessing no fewer than two (2) PGA Sanctioned Credits in the medium or genre of the production under consideration.

      2. Each party participating in an arbitration proceeding pursuant to these Rules shall have the right to strike named producers from the List provided the party has a reasonable and good faith belief that such stricken member(s) might possess prejudice against an individual or production under consideration. This right to strike shall be exercised, if at all, by communication with the PGA Administrator within 48 hours after the Notification of Arbitration was sent to the participating party, including reasoning supporting the request to strike.

      3. The PGA Administrator shall select, from the eligible individuals on the Arbitrators List, no fewer than two (2) or more than three (3) producers who shall function with the authority of the PGA as the designated Arbitration Panel (the ÒPanelÓ) for the production in question. Each Panel shall be advised by the PGA Administrator as to proper procedures; however, substantive decisions shall be determined exclusively by the Panel. In order to prevent coercion or the exercise of undue influence on the Panel by outside interests, the identities of the selected Arbitrators shall be maintained in strict confidence.

      4. Any Arbitrator considered for service on an Arbitration under these Rules shall recuse her/himself in advance of service if either said Arbitrator or the ArbitratorÕs immediate family, business associates or other personal affiliates have a financial or any other significant interest in the award or allocation of credit in the particular production being arbitrated, in the production itself, or represent another third party which has any direct interest in the outcome of the Arbitration. In the event of such recusal, the PGA Administrator shall select another Arbitrator from the Arbitrators List.

      5. In the event that the production in question is a film or long-form television production for which the director seeks credit as a producer, the PGA Administrator will use his/her best efforts to include at least one producer-director as an Arbitrator.

  3. PROCEDURES FOR CONDUCTING AN ARBITRATION

    1. Submission of Information to the Arbitrator The Arbitrator shall review the documentation supplied by the PGA Administrator and may, at its discretion, request additional information, including requests directed to any of the participants or to third parties involved with the production. Additionally, the Petitioner and Owner may submit statements and further documentation in support of their positions, to the PGA Administrator within 48 hours after Notification of Arbitration was sent. The parties are encouraged to use the PGA’s Qualification Forms (covering motion pictures, long-form television, and television pilots and series), which provide helpful checklists and open-ended questions that enable a participant to fully recount their involvement and services rendered on the production. Memoranda, correspondence, or statements from individuals involved in the production attesting to an individual’s active discharge of producing responsibilities will be most useful in the Arbitrator’s deliberations. Any information provided by third-party respondents shall be maintained by the PGA and delivered to the Arbitrator in confidence and not disclosed to any other third parties except as necessary to further the specific credit determination being arbitrated.

    2. The Arbitration The PGA Administrator shall determine a time and location to conduct the arbitration, with due consideration given to expedite the arbitration process to meet timely delivery requirements for the production. The Arbitrator reserves the right to call or sequester third party witnesses if the Arbitrator feels there is a compelling reason to do so.

      1. Consideration of Evidence and Standards. The Arbitrator shall consider all information supplied, giving such weight to the evidence as the Arbitrator may determine. In all arbitrations brought by a Producer-Petitioner, the burden of proof rests with the Producer-Petitioner to overcome the presumption that the Owner’s credit designation is appropriate by establishing either her or his qualification for a PGA Sanctioned Credit or the disqualification of another party’s PGA Sanctioned Credit. In addition to considering the definitions and job functions provided for the PGA’s Sanctioned Credits, the Arbitrator shall consider the provisions of this section III.B.(1):

        1. Controlling producing credits by definition, not numerical limitation. Although these Rules are promulgated to curtail the proliferation of producing credits, these Rules do not set any specific numerical limitations on PGA Sanctioned Credits.

        2. Performing services in capacities other than producing. Creative contributors to a production whose traditional job duties overlap with the producing functions listed for a PGA Sanctioned Credit are not entitled to a PGA Sanctioned Credit as a matter of course. Such creative contributors who seek PGA Sanctioned Credit must meet the same standards of eligibility for PGA Sanctioned Credit as a producer: Subject only to the control of the Owner, the responsibility (in a decision-making capacity) for a majority of the producing functions appropriate to the credit sought. In addition, the following criteria must be applied to the respective contributors to determine eligibility for PGA Sanctioned Credit:

          1. Writer: Contributions to the story or script are considered to be duties discharged as a writer, and are not counted towards the individual’s producing duties.

          2. Director: Because of the uniquely flexible nature of the producer-director collaboration in the creation of entertainment (particularly theatrical motion pictures and long-form television), many producing functions may also be performed by a director in the course of his/her performing directorial duties.  However, this flexibility shall not be taken to entail that every director is therefore also a producer.  Due to these unique circumstances, the arbitrator will utilize his/her best judgement in determining whether a director is eligible for producing credit.  To receive such eligibility, it is understood that the director must have undertaken significant producing duties over and beyond what s/he would normally perform as a director.  Examples of such involvement may include: seminal contributions to the development process; a demonstrated attachment to the production predating the production deal made with the Owner; chief responsibility for all budgetary concerns; securing significant financing; and playing a decisive role in marketing and distribution plans.

          3. Company Executive/Employee: To receive PGA Sanctioned Credit, a company executive/employee (”executive”) must demonstrate a commitment of time and resources to the production of such significance that such commitment is tantamount to taking a leave of absence from his/her duties as an executive. Certain forms of entertainment production (e.g., animation) allow for sufficient flexibility that an executive may make significant producorial contributions while still based in his/her office; however, credit eligibility still requires the demonstration of an overwhelming commitment to the production above and beyond duties discharged as an executive.

        3. The stages of production. When considering a participant’s producing contributions to a production, the Arbitrator will look to the participant’s involvement in a decision-making capacity concerning at least a majority of the producing functions during the entire production process. By definition, some producers have more involvement in certain stages of production and less in others. However, when considering an award, the Arbitrator will deliberate on the participation through all stages of production, giving relative weight among the stages as follows: 35% for development, 20% for pre-production, 20% for production, and 25% for post production and marketing. These percentages are intended as guidelines to assist the Arbitrator’s deliberations and are not intended as an absolute standard for the determination of credit.

        4. Television series showrunners. One exception to the weighted consideration above occurs in the case of television series showrunners who guide a successful series in its initial season(s), creating crucial templates for later seasons to follow, then depart the series, ceding showrunner duties to another producer. Such a producer will be deemed eligible for continued "Executive Producer” credit provided they meet the following criteria: (1) They served as showrunner of the series through the completion of its initial season; (2) Their continued "Executive Producer” credit meets with the approval of the series owner; and (3) They continue to provide in-person consultation services on the series.

        5. Producers involuntarily removed from production. A further exception to the above conditions occurs in the case of producers who are involuntarily removed from the production process. Such producers shall be eligible for PGA Sanctioned Credit provided they meet all of the following criteria: 1) Status as the project’s original producer, having initially obtained the underlying rights to the material and initially developed the original premise; 2) Probative evidence of the individual’s involuntary removal from the production process (i.e., a producer risks forfeiture of eligibility if s/he chooses not to continue providing services to the production); and 3) That the writers hired by the producer retain any form of writing credit on the finished project, demonstrating the seminal impact of the original producer’s development work.

        6. Producers working to the detriment of production. A further exception to the percentages given above occurs in the instance of credited producers who hinder the production through their unwelcome intrusion into aspects of the process outside of their appropriate sphere. Should the Committee determine that a producer has engaged in such detrimental behavior, it may, at its discretion, choose to deny eligibility to that producer despite his/her having otherwise met the standard of responsibility for a majority of the producing functions.

      2. The Arbitration Award. Following the consideration of all relevant information and applicable guidelines, the Arbitrator shall make his/her final determination of the proper PGA Sanctioned Credits. The Arbitration Award shall be signed by the PGA Arbitrator and briefly state the reasons on which the Arbitration Award is based. The PGA shall notify (by telephone, email, certified post or fax) the Owner and Petitioner, as well as any other participant(s) whose producing credit(s) are modified from the Owner’s initial designation, of its Award in an expedited fashion. The Arbitration Award shall be final and binding, and enforceable in any court having competent jurisdiction.

  4. APPEAL OF AN ARBITRATION

    1. Grounds for an Appeal The Owner, the Petitioner or any party whose PGA Sanctioned Credit was changed by the Arbitrator from the Owner’s original credit designation, may request an appeal of the Arbitrator’s decision. Such requests must be in writing and filed with the PGA Administrator within 48 hours of the appellant’s receipt of notice of the Arbitration Award by fax, post or email. The appellant’s request must state the grounds of the appeal in reasonable detail. The only grounds for appeal are: (i) dereliction of duty on the part of the Arbitrator; (ii) exercise of undue influence on the Arbitrator; or (iii) availability of relevant and probative evidence, for valid reasons not previously available to the Arbitrator.

    2. Procedure for an Appeal

      1. The appeal shall be presented to the PGA Administrator, along with sufficient documentation to support the appeal and the Appellate Fee (described below), presented in a very timely manner.

      2. An Arbitrator for the appeal (”Appellate Arbitrator”) shall be appointed by the PGA Administrator from the previously approved Arbitrators List.

      3. The Appellate Arbitrator shall review the documentation supplied by the appellant to the PGA Administrator along with the Arbitration Award. The Appellate Arbitrator shall determine whether or not, in the course of the Arbitration, grounds for an appeal have been met.

    3. An Appellate Decision If the Appellate Arbitrator finds that the grounds for the appeal are sufficiently compelling, the appellate Arbitrator may reconsider the record of the Arbitration and make its final determination of the proper PGA Sanctioned Credits. The appellate decision shall be signed by the Appellate Arbitrator and shall briefly state the grounds for the original decision to grant the appeal and the reasons on which the appellate decision is based.

  5. WAIVER OF CLAIMS

      The PGA, the PGA Administrator, and any and all Arbitrators engaged pursuant to these Rules, including their agents, employees, and representatives, have elected to maintain and administer these Rules as a service to the entertainment community for the purpose of fostering the expeditious, private resolution of disputes involving producing credits and preventing deceptive advertising or promotional practices stemming from the misattribution of producing credits. Inasmuch as the involvement of all such parties is for such public purpose, it is in the public interest to avoid involving any such parties in disputes or claims concerning their conduct relating to arbitrations hereunder, since such disputes or claims would be likely to have a negative impact on the desire of parties to act in such public service capacities. Accordingly, subject to the applicable provisions of California law, all parties to each arbitration brought under these Rules acknowledge, consent and agree that the PGA, the Arbitrators hereunder, and the officers, employees, directors and agents of each of the foregoing, including the PGA Administrator and Arbitrator utilized under these Rules, shall not be liable in damages in any way to any party in connection with any arbitration brought or conducted under these Rules; and by accepting arbitration under these Rules, all parties hereby expressly and impliedly waive any and all claims or actions for money or other damages they may have now or at any time in the future against each and all of the foregoing parties relating to or in connection with arbitrations brought or responded to under these Rules; except that this paragraph shall not be deemed to include a waiver of a good faith claim which any party may have that an Arbitrator (i) shall have failed to promptly disclose to the parties such Arbitrator’s knowing conflict of interest in a proceeding before such Arbitrator; and also (ii) acted in bad faith in making an Award under these Rules. All PGA Arbitrators have the immunity of a judicial officer from civil liability when acting in the capacity of arbitrator under any statute or contract. The immunity afforded by the Rules shall supplement and not supplant any otherwise applicable common law or statutory immunity.
    1. APPENDIX: Recommended Contractual Language

    "The parties to this Agreement agree to abide by the Code of Credits promulgated by the Producers Guild of America (’PGA’) as they may be amended from time to time. Any controversy or dispute concerning a screen credit of ‘produced by’ for theatrical motion pictures, will be resolved pursuant to the PGA Rules Governing Arbitration of Producing Credits (’PGA Rules’) in Los Angeles County, California. Each party hereby waives any right to adjudicate any such controversy in any other court or forum. The result of the arbitration will be final and binding on the parties, and judgment on the PGA Arbitrator’s award may be entered in any court having jurisdiction. The parties submit to the jurisdiction of the courts of the State of California for the purpose of confirming any award rendered by the PGA Arbitrator. In order to further the arbitration process, the parties hereby consent to the PGA contacting third party participants in the production for the purposes of investigating any controversy or dispute concerning said producing credits.”