SAG Advocates for Actors Against Digital Theft

SAG Advocates for Actors Against Digital Theft

Combating the destructive practice of online theft of copyrighted motion pictures and TV shows is a top priority for Screen Actors Guild.

Illegally downloading or streaming stolen content and/or purchasing illegally made or copied CDs and DVDs poses a considerable threat to the livelihoods and futures of the tens of thousands of actors and others employed by the entertainment industry.

SAG has worked with labor allies and industry partners to engage in intense activity designed to combat this destructive practice. Among the activity SAG has undertaken over the last 12 months:

• SAG President and AFL-CIO Executive Council member Ken Howard, along with other labor allies, urged passage of an Executive Council statement in support of industry efforts to fight digital content theft. Howard’s remarks addressed the impact of digital theft on entertainment union jobs and workers. The measure was unanimously approved by the AFL-CIO Executive Council. See the full Statement of Support here.

• SAG Secretary-Treasurer Amy Aquino, National Executive Director David White and other labor leaders participated in a roundtable discussion with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and Under Secretary for the Patent and Trademark Office David Kappos. The event was hosted by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

• Former SAG President, National Board Member and National Legislative Chair Richard Masur, and SAG National Director of Government Affairs Nancy Fox joined with the DGA, IATSE, the MPAA and several studios to have an in-depth meeting with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and key staffers to discuss how DHS, Justice and the rest of the U.S. Government can work with us to interdict theft of film and TV work.

• SAG NED David White and other labor leaders met with Vice President Joe Biden. In a joint press statement, White said, “We greatly appreciate the opportunity presented by Vice President Biden, Attorney General Holder, Secretary Locke, Secretary Napolitano, Director Mueller, I.P. Coordinator Victoria Espinel and other Administration officials to participate in the discussion of how to prevent the theft of intellectual property.”

• SAG NED David White and other labor leaders met with White House officials Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Larry Summers, director of the President’s National Economic Council, to discuss the need to address digital theft in upcoming Network Neutrality discussions.

• SAG President Ken Howard along with White and other SAG staff attended a congress of the International Federation of Actors and, along with SAG's sister unions, gave support for a presentation by the Motion Picture Association of America's Robert Pisano and Fritz Attaway regarding TV and film theft.

• SAG Secretary-Treasurer Amy Aquino, NED David White, National Board members, committee chairs and staff received presentations from Paramount Pictures regarding digital content theft.

• SAG NED David White and other labor representatives met with the Office of the United States Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk and other personnel from that office. USTR is the lead U.S. Government agency on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, Free Trade Agreements and Special 301, and is a key player in the development and implementation of U.S. international intellectual property policy. The event was hosted by the MPAA.

• SAG NED David White, along with other labor leaders, met with Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and Deputy Under Secretary of Labor for International Affairs Sandra Polaski to discuss labor issues and prepare for the upcoming G20 meeting and international meeting of labor ministers.

• SAG, DGA, IATSE and AFTRA jointly filed comments with the FCC on the issue of Network Neutrality. You can read the statement here.

• SAG has partnered with other entertainment unions and the MPAA to create a broad-based educational campaign to de-romanticize so-called "piracy" and name it for what it is—the theft of our work.

More work is ahead. SAG representatives are to meet with other labor leaders in a roundtable luncheon with Under Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Robert Hormats to discuss the U.S. motion picture industry’s priorities for intellectual property protection overseas.

Our concern is not simply for actors working today, but for the actors, directors, writers and craftspeople of the future. We will continue to publicly and visibly engage in a sustained effort to protect members’ livelihoods. Those new developments will be posted on SAG.org and on our Facebook page.