Spring 2021

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54 SAG-AFTRA | Spring 2021 | S AG-AFTRA is backing legislation that would free actors from unreasonable, unpaid holds and ease restrictions labels place on recording artists. The bill, the Free Artists from Industry Restrictions, or FAIR Act — AB 1385 — was introduced by California State Assembly member Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego. It would limit contracts that put performers on hold — unpaid — preventing them from taking other work for excessive periods of time. Those restrictions are known as options and exclusivity provisions. SAG-AFTRA is teaming up with Music Artists Coalition to advocate for the bill. Together, the organizations have more than 82,000 members that are impacted by California law. In a message to members, SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris noted that powerful interests will oppose these changes, and it will take commitment by members of SAG-AFTRA and sister unions to get this bill passed. "We are fighting for artists' rights, and it won't be easy. The studios, labels and producers will use all their power and resources to obstruct passage of the FAIR Act. All of us must work together to win this battle," she said. Although it's a California bill, a law such as this in the most populous state would have impact outside the state and could set the stage for further empowering members nationwide. Read on to learn the details of what the bill does, how it impacts members and how you can help. Visit to support the FAIR Act. Who does the FAIR Act help? The FAIR Act is particularly directed toward two groups of artists: television and new media (e.g., streaming) series actors and music artists under recording contracts with labels. What are options and exclusivity clauses? An option clause gives the producer or studio the sole right, or "option," to extend a contract for an additional period of time. This commits the actor to working on the subsequent television or new media season or commits the recording artist to another album. The exclusivity clause means an artist can only work for the identified employer (a producer, studio or label) during the term of the contract, including between seasons or albums. Together, these boilerplate provisions in actors' and recording artists' contracts keep them off the market — often without compensation — and prohibit them from working. Particularly problematic is that producers and studios can exercise options without confirming a start date for the next engagement. This means that an artist can be kept in limbo for months or years, not knowing when they will return to work on their show or work on their next album, and unable to take additional work. What is the "Seven-Year Statute"? The Seven-Year Statute has, for decades, protected Californians from being trapped in long- term employment contracts by prohibiting those contracts from lasting more than seven years. The Seven-Year Statute was made famous by Olivia de Havilland who, in 1943, relied on the law in her successful lawsuit against Warner Bros. Pictures. The California Court of Appeals, in 1944, confirmed the prevailing view that seven years from the commencement of service means seven calendar years. The Seven-Year Statute applied equally to all Californians until 1987. Ensuring Employers PLAY FAIR Proposed Legislation Would Ease Exclusivity and Holds — and Let Artists Get Back to Work Support the FAIR ACT

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