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South African Actors Have Taken Their Fight to Parliament


Just after 3 pm today, the chairman of the South African Guild of Actors (Saga) will be presenting an oral submission on the Performers’ Protection Amendment Bill to Parliament.

This is because actors have no rights over their image and are therefore unable to earn a residual income off any reruns or redistribution into new territories of productions they once featured in.
The bill was first introduced to the public by actress, Florence Masebe in late November of 2017.

She has since been joined by a large number of actors who have lent their voice to Saga’s cause.

Over the past year, numerous actors have taken to social media to state the following message:

“It’s 2018 and I still don’t have the right to own my image or share in the profits of its distribution. We need to change this. That is why I support SAGA’s submission to adopt the PERFORMERS PROTECTION AMENDMENT BILL. #IamActorSA #SAGAforPPAB”

Saga became a guild after they tried to set up a union for actors but realised they could not do so due to the employee status (or lack thereof) of actors. They are considered freelancers and, as a result, are more protected by the law of contract then they are by labour law.

According to Saga chairman Adrian Galley, “The provisions in the bill, should they go into legislation, will for the first time give actors the right to own their own image, their own likeness and that gives them some kind of a bargaining position when going into a negotiation for a contract.”

Speaking in an interview, Galley added, “Usually the default position was you sign away all rights the minute you enter into a contract with one of the broadcasters – all rights in perpetuity throughout the universe in all media, existent or yet to be invented.”

Current law does not take redistribution into new territories into account and that is one of the things Saga would like to correct by changing the law.

Content producers and distributors such as M-Net currently include a fee, which they have dubbed “considerations”, that takes future redistribution of content into account in the upfront payment they pay actors, but Galley maintains this is not enough.

Among other requests, Saga would like to make way for the provision of a body that will act as a fee-collection society on behalf of actors in the same way musicians have. They previously had no such body as they did not have the rights to residuals.

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