Your Relationship With Your Agent

Your Relationship With Your Agent

November 26, 2002 - By now, many of you are aware that some agents have been offering our members General Service Agreements (GSA) for SAG-covered work, which may dramatically alter the essence of your relationship with your agent. These contracts have either been offered in conjunction with, or in place of, the standard SAG representation contract you normally sign for agency representation. If you sign one of these agreements, you may be signing on to conditions of representation that are significantly different than those with which you are familiar. If any agent asks you to sign a GSA (a/k/a any contract that does not have a SAG, AFTRA or One-Union logo on it, and is therefore not approved by the Union), we advise you to immediately notify the National Agency Department at (323) 549-6729 or in New York at (212) 827-1438 and provide us with a copy of the agreement.

The Union believes that some GSAs do not conform to the terms and conditions of Rule 16(g), whittle away your bargaining power, and should be carefully scrutinized. Be vigilant and know your rights before signing.

GSAs cannot be used, under any circumstances, for any AFTRA-covered work.  

LEGACY SAG's RULE 16(G) PROTECTIONS vs. THE ATA's GENERAL SERVICE AGREEMENT: A COMPARISON

Initial Contract Term

Protections Under Rule 16(g)

The ATA form General Service Agreements

Limits initial contract term up to 1 year; subsequent term up to 3 years.

Agents appear to be offering 1 to 3 year initial contracts. Note that in California, State Law permits a maximum term of seven (7) years on an initial contract.

Rate of Commission

Protections Under Rule 16(g)

The ATA form General Service Agreements

Your agent may not collect more than 10% of your commissionable income.

Agents appear generally to be offering contracts with a 10% commission rate. Note that in New York the contract will be subject to a current NY State maximum of 10%. In California, there is a general regulatory limit of around 20%-25%.

Check Authorizations

Protections Under Rule 16(g)

The ATA form General Service Agreements

Check authorizations under SAG are always revocable at the performer's option.

With GSAs, check authorizations appear irrevocable.

Scope of Agreement

Protections Under Rule 16(g)

The ATA form General Service Agreements

Rule 16(g) applies throughout the country to all agents who represent SAG performers. SAG agency contracts are limited to areas in which SAG has exercised jurisdiction. SAG agency contracts are limited to a 50- mile radius, except in cases where the agent‚s offices are in Los Angeles, which permits an agent to extend the contract throughout State of California. SAG performers have always been permitted to have different representation (e.g. a different agent for commercials and TV/Theatricals) in different areas of the country (e.g. New York and LA)

Worldwide representation in all areas, including, but not limited to, your work as a writer, composer, editor, author, lyricist, musician, artist, performer, designer, consultant, cameraman, technician, director, producer, associate producer, supervisor, executive, and in any other capacity in the entertainment, literary and related fields. Because of the broad scope of the GSA (which allows the agent to exclusively represent the performer in areas which include, but are not limited to: writer, composer, editor, author, lyricist, musician, artist, performer, designer, consultant, cameraman, technician, director, producer, associate producer, supervisor, executive, and in any other capacity in the entertainment, literary and related fields throughout the world, including but not limited to merchandising, testimonials, advertising, infomercials, commercial tie-ups, CD-ROMS, CD-Is, interactive media or any other technology now in existence or hereafter utilized), the SAG performer may be prohibited from securing separate representation for different areas of work (e.g. a separate agent for commercials and TV/theatricals). The member may also be restricted from engaging the services of a personal manager or an attorney.

Limitations On Commissions

Protections Under Rule 16(g)

The ATA form General Service Agreements

In some areas of the country (i.e . Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and Hawaii), Rule 16(g) restricts an agent's ability to commission original television and theatrical employment to those instances where the agent is able to negotiate scale +10% . (In all other areas of the Country, commission is payable on scale).

Rule 16(g) severely restricts your agent's ability to collect commissions in residual markets for productions made for broadcast television. For example, in Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and Hawaii, an agent may only commission primetime residuals if the original employment contract was overscale
(i.e . scale +10% ). Fox primetime residuals are commissionable only for the first two reruns.
(In all other areas of the country, only the first two primetime reruns are commissionable at scale).

In Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, Washington, D.C. and Hawaii, residuals on productions originally created for broadcast television which are exhibited on non-network primetime , syndication , foreign markets , theatrical exhibition , pay TV, Basic Cable,
In-flight, and Video/DVDs
, are not commissionable unless the performer‚s employment contract provides for overscale residual payments. (In all other areas of the country, network non-primetime, and syndication reruns are commissionable at scale for only the second and third runs. Subsequent theatrical exhibition and supplemental market runs are also commissionable.

In Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and Hawaii, productions made for Basic Cable and Theatrical films exhibited in supplemental markets are not commissionable unless the employment contract provides for overscale residuals. (In all other areas of the Country, commission may be payable under certain instances for residuals on productions made for Basic cable).

In all areas of the country, commercial renegotiations are not commissionable unless the employment contract provides for overscale residual payments. Rule 16(g) provides outright prohibitions on the commissionability of travel and living expenses (per diems), mileage, and all penalty payments (e.g. late pay, meal period violations, forced calls rest period violations, etc).

All of the performer's income is commissionable. All original employment may be commissionable at scale.

Agents may commission, at SAG scale, every dollar earned by the performer, including all of the following:

All payments for television and theatrical work

All payments for commercial session and residuals

All residuals payments -- including network and Fox prime time residuals, network non-prime time, syndication, foreign, theatrical exhibition, supplemental markets (including pay TV, basic cable, in flight, video cassettes, and DVD worldwide)

All reuse and renegotiation for commercials

All travel and living expenses (per diems)

All reimbursements for travel, mileage, etc.

All penalty payments

Commission Obligations After Expiration of SAG Agency Contract

Protections Under Rule 16(g)

The ATA form General Service Agreements

An agent may not commission employment secured after the expiration of the agency relationship, nor may an agent commission changes in the performer's salary (on an existing job) that are secured after the expiration of the agency relationship, if these changes were not negotiated by the agent.

GSA terns may allow an agent to claim that any modifications, renewals, additions, substitutions, supplements, replacements, or extensions of any existing contract, whether negotiated during the term of the contract or after the term of the contract, are commissionable.

Indemnification

Protections Under Rule 16(g)

The ATA form General Service Agreements

No requirement for SAG performer to personally indemnify an agent for the acts of the performer's company.

SAG performer must personally indemnify agent in instances where actor's company enters into agreement with agent and breaches said agreement. Artist remains primarily liable, as well as jointly and severally liable, for all actions of his/her company.

Dispute Resolution

Protections Under Rule 16(g)

The ATA form General Service Agreements

SAG rules require that all disputes and controversies of every kind and nature whatsoever between an agent and a SAG member must be submitted to the Guild's relatively inexpensive arbitration procedure for resolution.

Controversies arising between a member and an agent under a GSA would be submitted to, in California, the Labor Commissioner's Office (in NY, to the Department of Consumer Affairs), and are subject solely to applicable State laws. Rule 16(g) would no longer be available to protect the member. Moreover, SAG would not be a party to such litigation, and the fees for prosecuting these disputes may be substantially more then under SAG's jurisdiction.

Agent's Material Breach of the Agency Contract

SAG performer may arbitrate an agent's material breach of the agency representation contract, and seek, as a remedy, annulment of said agency contract. Rule 16(g) does not impose time limitations on the performer's rights to allege material breaches.

SAG performer can never claim an agent's material breach of an agency contract as grounds for terminating said contract. Also, SAG performer must file claim alleging breach or failure to perform within 10 days of knowledge of the breach and allow agent time to cure it.

Termination Rights

SAG performer may terminate a TV/Theatrical Agency Contract if the performer has not worked more than 10 days within the last 91 days. SAG performer may terminate a Commercials Agency Contract if the performer has not earned more than $3500 within the last 91 days.

Performer may only terminate contract if the performer has not been offered one (1) day's worth of employment within a period in excess of four (4) months