Spring 2018

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8 SAG-AFTRA | Spring 2018 | A Letter from the Executive Vice President R E B E C C A D A M O N "We should have the tools to fight back when someone tries to exploit our image or work, or uses it to defame us." Dear Member, I f there is a defining characteristic of our business in the modern era, it is the rapid pace of change. In a few short decades, we have gone from the internet being a wondrous curiosity to an essential tool to upending the way Americans consume news and entertainment. Change is never easy, but it usually comes with opportunity. We must embrace that opportunity. Television, for instance, has been enormously impacted by technological advancements. Streaming services and increased competition have resulted in a new Golden Age of television, with creativity and quality at an all-time high. I am excited about where these new roads can take us. But just as technology gives creative people the power to realize their visions, it also allows unscrupulous ones the ability to steal or deface others' work, or even tarnish reputations. This has come into sharp focus recently as a plethora of doctored videos have begun to appear online. The most disturbing are pornographic videos featuring the faces of prominent female actors. In fact, the technology has made it possible to manufacture just about anyone doing or saying almost anything. It has massive repercussions for our members in every area. Not only can images, voice and music be misused, but for our broadcaster members who report the news, it may be increasingly difficult to determine what's real and what's a convincing fake. An altered video has the potential to spark an international incident. The tools to make these videos are becoming more sophisticated and affordable. As a result, it's incumbent upon us, as artists and members of an influential union, to support SAG-AFTRA in establishing a framework for this technology to be used responsibly. Our union is diligently working on these concerns by continually updating our contracts to reflect the changing times and advocating for laws at state, federal and international levels that protect our interests. While our highest-profile members are the most common targets, these issues have the potential to affect us all. Fundamentally, it comes down to whether we believe artists should have the right to determine what happens to their work. For many of us, our images are inseparable from our work. Our members should have the right to determine what happens to their work, images or voices, whether it's a digital reproduction or a hologram performance. And that right should extend to their heirs — or whomever they will it to — after their passing. We should be the ones to decide if our images are being used in a film or video. We should decide whether our faces are being used to endorse a product, cause or political viewpoint. And we should have the tools to fight back when someone tries to exploit our image or work, or uses it to defame us. It should be the right of every artist to profit from the fruits of their labor — and that's a philosophy that goes hand in hand with the basic tenets of unionism. Our union has been there every time a new technological or business development took hold. The world never stops changing, the entertainment business continually evolves, and we will never stop adapting and fighting to protect our members. Onward together, Rebecca Damon

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