Guild creates contract for made-for-Net work

The Screen Actors Guild has created a standard contract for producers to hire SAG members to perform in made-for-Internet projects.

The contract, approved by SAG’s national board, became available with no fanfare during the final weeks of last year. Union staff developed the document along the lines of similar pacts created earlier in the year by the Directors Guild of America and the Writers Guild of America.

The new SAG pact provides basic coverage for members, including pension and health plan contributions, but does not specify minimum rates, although the “starting point” for negotiations is SAG’s basic minimum agreement with a daily rate of $596. The new contract has been available from SAG on a case-by-case basis.

Aiming for flexibility

“What we’re trying for is providing producers with a fair amount of flexibility, particularly given the extraordinary breadth of revenues covered in recent agreements for performers,” said Sallie Weaver, SAG’s national director of strategic planning. “We really took a look at the industry and found that setting minimums did not meet the needs of producers and performers.”

Weaver said the SAG pact was hammered out partly based on the experiences of the DGA and WGA in creating their standard Internet contracts for the first time. Most of the interest expressed so far to SAG has come from young non-signatory producers and much of their focus has been in the area of animation, she added.

SAG leaders have not formulated the formal proposal for upcoming negotiations over its film-TV contract, but the union is likely to be seeking to include language in the agreement that will explicitly give it jurisdiction over made-for-the-Internet work. Films and TV programs that are moved over to the Internet fall under the contract’s re-use provisions.

Previous gains

SAG, along with the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists, achieved jurisdiction over commercials for the Internet in their negotiations with the ad industry, which concluded in late October. As part of the now-ratified three-year deal, the unions agreed to let the marketplace set rates along with setting a $1,500 yearly minimum payout for use of an ad on the Internet.

The DGA also reached a four-year deal in October with the Assn. of Independent Commercial Producers, which included Internet language. The pact, with ratification due later this month, provides that the DGA contract will apply when members are performing the same function as on a TV commercial; if the work is dissimilar to TV ads, terms and conditions are negotiable.

AFTRA has included Internet language in at least 25% of the more than 200 pacts it has with local TV stations, providing that standard terms and conditions apply for employees performing work for station Web sites. It also signed a deal last year with Pax TV covering original content for the Internet including pay for performance, fixed residuals for continued use, benefits and additional fees for use in other media.

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