The Producers Guild of America moved to enforce the "produced by" credit through arbitration and lawsuits, the first step toward restoring the title's accuracy and value.

LOS ANGELES (The Hollywood Reporter) -- The Producers Guild of America moved to enforce the "produced by" credit through arbitration and lawsuits, the first step toward restoring the title's accuracy and value.

The credit's use as a bargaining chip, partial payment or reward to family and friends has made it the butt of jokes both inside the industry and out, leading the PGA to spend four years defining what it means to be a film or television producer and look for ways to back that up.

Recently, the guild began asking production companies, networks and studios to amend producers' contracts to both abide by the PGA's credit guidelines and settle disputes through arbitration. Distributors who ignore the "Truth in Credits" campaign and allow false credits to be published will be sued in civil court.

Initially, at least, the enforcement will be limited to the "produced by" credit in feature films and the "executive producer" title in TV. It is hoped that industry pressure will help eliminate fraud in related credits like associate producer.

No studio or network has yet adopted the proposals, but the companies were said to be supportive, in part because it gives them an added reason to help curb credits proliferation. Industry acceptance will be crucial because the PGA is not a union and cannot use the collective-bargaining and threat-of-a-strike tools utilized by the Writers Guild of America and the Directors Guild of America.

Still, the guild spent several years working with the industry's official bargaining unit, the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers, to reach agreed-upon definitions of the duties of a producer in various media. Those talks were stopped this year to avoid antitrust issues raised by the unrelated debate over awards season screeners.

The new credits process will apply only to current and future productions and will not be retroactive.

Lawsuits are being reserved as a last-ditch effort to prevent the dissemination of false credits.

"Under California law, the false attribution of credit on a motion picture is false advertising," PGA general counsel George Hedges said. "So legal action can be taken to stop false attribution of credit where they occur using the same laws that protect against false advertising."

The PGA has more than 2,000 members.