RIP: The Traditional SAG-AFTRA Commercials Contract
  • Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022
Dorian Thomas, Counsel at Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz, New York Office

The end of an era has come. The “traditional” SAG-AFTRA Commercials Contract will expire on December 31, 2022, and on January 1, 2023, the “new” SAG-AFTRA Commercials Contract, with updated compensation and editing structures, will be the only game in town. Fortunately, SAG-AFTRA and The Joint Policy Committee have issued a set of FAQs regarding the transition from the “traditional” to the “new” SAG-AFTRA Commercials Contract (the full set of FAQs may be found here).

Here are a few useful takeaways from the FAQs to help navigate this transition:

  • Until December 31, 2022, performers should continue to be notified at the time of booking which contract they are being hired under and if a waiver is being used (such as the YouTube/Social Media waiver).
  • Beginning January 1, 2023, all commercials must be produced under the “new” contract payment structure; so, the only notification that would be required at booking would be whether you are producing under a waiver.
  • Once a performer is hired under a particular contract structure to perform in a particular commercial, that structure is followed through the commercial’s applicable Maximum Period of Use (MPU). Therefore, for an active commercial produced under the “traditional” contract, the terms, conditions, and use payments due under the “traditional” contract would continue to apply to that commercial – even after December 31st - through the commercial’s MPU.
  • Until December 31, 2022, a renewal upon expiration of the MPU can be negotiated with the performer under either the “traditional” contract or the “new” contract. Beginning January 1, 2023, all renewals must be negotiated under the “new” contract.
  • If you produce a commercial under the “traditional” contract prior to December 31, 2022, then all performers must be hired under that contract. There is one exception: if you produced a spot under the traditional contract before the end of the year, but record the voiceover after January 1, 2023, you would engage the voiceover performer under the “new” contract.
  • If you lift footage from a commercial produced under the “traditional contract” into a new commercial produced under the “new” contract, the principal performers whose performances are contained in the lifted footage would be paid for the new commercial according to the “new” contract compensation structure.

Bottom line: although the days of producing new commercials under the “traditional” contract are coming to an end, the terms and conditions of the “traditional” contract will continue to apply to commercials produced under that contract before December 31, 2022. Thus, until all those “old” commercials expire, you shouldn’t throw away your copy of the “traditional” contract.

Happy New Year!

Dorian Slater Thomas practices in the firm’s Interactive Entertainment Group and Advertising, Marketing & Public Relations Group, where he handles a wide range of transactional work for prominent agencies, brands, platforms, developers, publishers, and individual creative talent. Variety includes him as an “Up Next” honoree in their 2022 Legal Impact ReportThe Legal 500 lists him as a “Rising Star” in advertising and marketing for 2021.

This column presents a general discussion of legal issues, but is not legal advice and may not be applicable in all situations. Consult your attorney. To contact Dorian Slater Thomas click here.

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Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz

Founded more than 40 years ago as a boutique entertainment law firm in New York City, Frankfurt Kurnit now provides the highest quality legal services to clients in a wide range of industries and disciplines worldwide. With leading practices in advertising, entertainment, IP, technology, privacy, litigation, corporate, estate planning, charitable organizations, professional responsibility and other areas — Frankfurt Kurnit can help you face challenging legal and business issues and meet your goals with efficient and practical solutions.

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