Sunday, September 9, 2007

Actors, KNOW YOUR RIGHTS! Youtube Edition...

SO, you might remember my story just a little while back about my friend Mike Rock being a Bert Fershner.

In that story I linked out to a Youtube clip of one of his commercials (he was the voice of Kleenex on their Monk commercial). I sent him the story, and he thanked me for linking out to their B.F. clips. He mentioned in passing that they had some problems initially with posting the clips because Viacom was removing everything on Youtube even remotely connected to Comedy Central, MTV, or any of their other holdings. They took a slash and burn approach to removing the content, and clips that didn't infringe on the content (say someone commenting on the Daily Show, but not actually showing a Daily Show clip) were also removed. This sucked for B.F. because even their home grown clips which weren't on Comedy Central were threatened with take down.

This got me thinking. I posted a link to his Kleenex commercial. I had originally tried to find his commercial at Kleenex's site but couldn't find it there. If Kleenex wasn't using the commercial, maybe they didn't pay Mike for Web use. If they didn't pay Mike for web use then that commercial doesn't belong ANYWHERE on teh intarwebs.

I spoke to Mike about it. He said he hadn't checked off his contract for Internet use.


On a SAG contract there are these tiny little boxes where an actor can say "I don't allow production to use my likeness on the internet". A lot of places will say you can't check that box, but in actuality you have every right to control how your likeness is used. We encourage our actors to strike all of these provisions, if for no other reason, then it forces production to call us and we can negotiate the additional use in good faith.

Even though Mike didn't check those boxes, it doesn't mean that they would be able to put the Kleenex commercial up for free. They'd still need to pay him.

Youtube has been tricky because anyone can post anything at anytime. It makes it really hard to keep track of what content is being used and where. The stick of the situation is that it doesn't matter who puts it up or where it's put up, the internet is the internet. If it airs you get paid for it.
It's also in the best interest of production to review, because by having it online and by not paying for it, it leaves them in an actionable position. Realistically they should approach Youtube about removing the content (they had no problems working with Viacom).

I told Mike to contact the Business Affairs people with the agency he booked the commercial through. I'll keep you posted on what happens!


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