SAG-AFTRA Applauds Adoption of Global Treaty on Performers' Rights

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SAG-AFTRA Applauds Adoption of Global Treaty on Performers' Rights

Beijing (June 26, 2012) — SAG-AFTRA and its more than 160,000 members around the world applaud the adoption of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances. This treaty will, at long last, extend important economic and moral rights to actors and other audiovisual performers.

“Actors and other audiovisual performers have long needed the crucial protections of this treaty, and now we can finally have them. With new rights to proper compensation for the use of our work and control over the use of our images and likenesses, actors will have important tools to protect themselves around the world. This rising tide can lift the boats of all actors worldwide,” said Co-Presidents Ken Howard and Roberta Reardon.

The effort to secure these rights for actors at the international level began in the late 1990s, but was stalled for many years while disputes between artists and producers over crucial language on the transfer of rights prevented the conclusion of the treaty. Ongoing efforts led by SAG-AFTRA with the collaboration of the Motion Picture Association resulted in a compromise solution agreed to by all stakeholders that forms one of the underpinnings of the successful treaty. With that issue resolved, a global team from the International Federation of Actors (FIA), including SAG-AFTRA representatives, worked with WIPO and government delegations to move the treaty forward. The treaty was also shepherded through the complex WIPO process by a US diplomatic delegation adeptly led by Justin Hughes, senior adviser to the undersecretary of commerce.

More than 140 nations participated in the diplomatic conference, with as many as 60 countries authorized to sign the treaty in a signing ceremony held in Beijing on June 26, 2012. However, in order for the treaty to take effect, it must be ratified by at least 30 parties. The crucial step of ratification and entry into force is expected to take a year or more.

“SAG-AFTRA couldn’t be more pleased with the effort put forward by the US government to bring this treaty into being. Now it is time for the administration to take the steps necessary to bring this treaty to the Senate for ratification, so that the US can remain in the forefront of global intellectual property rights,” said National Executive Director David White. “I want to convey special appreciation for the efforts of John McGuire, our senior advisor, throughout this process. We would also like to acknowledge the extraordinary contribution on behalf of SAG-AFTRA during the decade-long effort to get here, including past executive directors Ken Orsatti and Kim Roberts Hedgpeth, and particularly former executive Sallie Weaver whose creative efforts helped keep alive the treaty effort during the long period of stalemate.”

The WIPO Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances was approved by the full WIPO diplomatic conference in Beijing, China after five days of meetings beginning June 20, 2012, and concluding June 26, 2012. The SAG-AFTRA participants in the FIA delegation included National Executive Director David White, Senior Advisor John T. McGuire, Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, Assistant National Executive Director and Chief Labor Counsel Thomas Carpenter, Director of Legislative and Public Affairs Terrie Bjorklund and Senior Consultant Robert Hadl. Hadl also served as a member of the United States government delegation.

The International Federation of Actors (FIA) also released a statement, which can be viewed by clicking here.

Photo caption: The SAG-AFTRA delegation with WIPO Director General Francis Gurry