Assemby OKs Astaire Bill

Measure allows heirs to limit image use of dead

The Astaire bill sailed through the California Assembly on Friday by a vote of 62-3.

Passage came on the heels of revisions made to the bill last month based on a compromise reached by its main sponsors, the Screen Actors Guild and Robyn Astaire, widow of Fred; and major opponents, including the MPAA and most studios and networks.

SB209 allows heirs to limit the use of images of dead celebrities. The compromise differentiated between allowable artistic uses and commercial usage.

The legislation extends the period of protection from 50 years after the death of the personality to 70 years.

According to a rep in the office of Sen. John Burton, author of the bill, SB209 should have little trouble getting through the state Senate this week, after which Gov. Gray Davis is expected to sign it into law by Oct. 12.

SAG prexy Richard Masur told Daily Variety: “We think this is a very important first step to protect the rights of heirs of performers and other high-profile personalities, from having their images misappropriated for commercial use.”

Masur added that next year SAG intends to push for legal protections that would restrict digital manipulation of the images of both living and deceased performers.

(Charles Lyons contributed to this report.)