USAN LEGISLATIVE VICTORIES
The legislative agenda under the leadership of USAN, Unite for Strength and members leaders from around the country has been remarkably productive, resulting in significant gains across a multitude of areas.
Working with Government & Public Policy staff, we are confident that under the leadership of Fran Drescher as President, we will continue to build on that success to benefit our members in this challenging time.
With Fran’s experience on Capitol Hill, successfully lobbying for bipartisan legislation as a Public Policy Advocate in both the Obama and Bush administrations, SAG-AFTRA will be positioned to be even more powerful in winning benefits for our members.
RIGHT OF PUBLICITY
In 2020, thanks to the USAN Leadership, the New York Legislature overwhelmingly passed a bill updating the right of publicity and also prohibiting the distribution of digitally created, sexually explicit performances without clear consent. The bill is a victory in the union’s efforts to protect performers against digital image and voice exploitation.
The bill keeps New York’s protections against the use of a living person’s image and voice, including their “digital avatar and digital voice,” in advertising and trade firmly intact. The bill also prohibits the use of a deceased individual’s voice and image in advertising and for purposes of trade. The bill prohibits deceptive uses of a deceased performer’s digital image and voice in expressive works. And lastly, the bill contains strict prohibitions against the distribution of digitally created, sexually explicit works, sometimes known as “deepfakes,” without clear and written approval from the performer.
THE FILM PRODUCTION TAX INCENTIVE PROGRAM
USAN extended the New York State Film and Television production tax incentive program through 2025. Regional incentives to bolster the tri-state area as part of this critical jobs program.
Performing Artist Tax Parity Act (PAPTA) QUALIFIED PERFORMING ARTIST TAX CREDIT (QPA):
SAG-AFTRA, with significant lobbying by President Carteris, EVP Rebecca Damon, Stacey Travis and Sandra Karas, member leaders and GAPP staff and in concert with our sister union Actors’ Equity, succeeded in securing congressional allies to introduce a bill in Congress in 2019 to enable more tax write-offs for performers that were lost in the Trump tax bill.
This bill, which was just introduced into the House by Representative Judy Chu (CA) has bipartisan support in the House and has positive indications for support in the Senate.
The union led this fight for many years as we lobbied in person to explain our business and QPA’s impact with other arts organizations. Along with actors, this hits musicians and all arts performers hard; as many as 300K performers will benefit from this credit being updated.
The QPA was signed into law as part of tax reform in 1986 and has since remained unchanged in the tax code. The new legislation rectifies a decades-long problem that limits creative professionals from deducting business expenses that had previously been allowed.
The bipartisan Performing Artist Tax Parity Act updates the thresholds of the QPA, which had been capped at an adjusted gross income of $16,000 since enactment 35 years ago.
This new bill would update the deduction to $100,000 for single filers and $200, 000 for married artists filing jointly. We have secured two sponsors in the House who have introduced it.
We worked hard to get KEY COVID relief for our members in 2020 – CARES Act, HEROES Act, secured Extra Unemployment Insurance money, and extended COBRA.
We managed to close the illegal streaming loophole. This is not the college student downloading a film, but the huge companies ruining our residual income, which was a huge win for us! Our members lose significant money from illegal streaming.
President Carteris, with GAPP leaders and staff, fought for Mixed income in 2020 which is additional covid relief for mixed earners, those people who make a living from W-2 and 1099 income, including many SAG-AFTRA members.
Our union wrote the language and Carteris and GAPP leaders made sure that it stayed in the bill. This brings an additional $100.00 to $300.00 a week in those getting unemployment insurance that fit the mixed income criteria.
MUSIC MODERNIZATION ACT
The Music Modernization Act was signed into law on October 11, 2018, aimed to modernize copyright-related issues for music and audio recordings due to new forms of technology such as digital streaming.
This was a hard fought win for our musician members.We are proud of all of these legislative victories, and look forward to building on this progress.
Titles used for identification purposes only.