by Brian Hamilton:
MEMBERS: Don’t DARE Download the New Logo from the SAG-AFTRA Website!
Instead of looking for actual misuse and infringement, Pamela Greenwalt, the Assistant National Exective Director, Communications, and the legal department at SAG-AFTRA have decided to take preemptive measures and fire off a terse, impersonal missive to dues paying members who downloaded the brand new logo from the sagaftra.org website. Read the letter. Rather than being phrased in the manner of an inquiry, it assumes bad faith and makes demands.
While anyone on the entire planet can go to Google images to find several websites hosting much higher resolution image files of the new logo than the small one offered by SAG-AFTRA, and instantly download it to their computer without filling out a form, reading a batch of legalese, or agreeing to any terms and conditions –then do whatever they please unbeknownst to all — Pamela Greenwalt has chosen to spend her handsomely paid time ($217,804.00 in 2012) chastising members of the union. Simply for possessing an image file of their own union’s logo. Without one iota of evidence of use or misuse. Policing infringement which doesn’t even exist. (Like in that Stallone film where he arrests people for future crimes.) How is this not offensive to members? How is this a wise expenditure of time and money?
Listen, I fully understand how copyright enforcement works. When an incidence of infringement is discovered, it must be swiftly met with an inquiry, warning, or request for immediate removal by the copyright holder. That’s clearly not what has occurred here.
“You represent and warrant that you… are a freelance news reporter…”
Bloggers certainly qualify as freelance news reporters. Nicki Finke of Deadline would agree, as would Matt Drudge and Arianna Huffington. Apparently, Pamela Greenwalt conveniently forgot that I am both the cofounder of this blog, SAG Watchdog in 2003 with Arlin Miller, and the founder and operator of SAGactor.com since 1999. To ignore this fact and assume that I had “downloaded the logo in error” is erroneous and offensive. It also bears mentioning that both of these sites are widely known and frequented by staff members at SAG and AFTRA for many years, as well as journalists from Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.
No member of the union should have received that e-mail.
So, this also raises the question: Are dues paying members of this union not allowed to possess an image of their union’s logo on their own computer!? Not allowed to use it on their own website to display their loyal membership in the union? After all: Who paid for it? I don’t know how much they paid for it, but they paid too much. It’s goddam ugly. Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks so. Read the comments on this site. Actually, I think the estate of the late, great Freddie Mercury is who should be suing SAG-AFTRA for infringement, n’est-ce pas?
A Systemic Problem That’s Growing Worse
This policy, and the manner in which Pamela Greenwalt has chosen to implement it, are very bad. It’s another symptom of a growing systemic problem at the new union. Members aren’t treated as shareholders, they’re treated like outsiders. I would like to remind every staff member at SAG-AFTRA:
You don’t work for David White. You don’t work for Duncan Crabtree-Ireland. You work for the members, like me, whose dues collectively pay your salary. We are the reasons why you have a job to begin with.
In the former Screen Actors Guild, most staff members fully understood this. Now, while many more of them are quite handsomely compensated, there seems to be a pervasive lack of loyalty to the membership, and strong allegiance to their corporate superiors. It consistently shows in their attitudes and behavior. Too many treat members as if they’re doing them a favor, and I’m sick of it. Several departments need re-training from the top down.
I was a voting National Board member of the former Screen Actors Guild who voted to hire Doug Allen as National Executive Director at the plenary in 2007. He brought Pamela in as the guild’s Executive Director for Communications on February 27, 2007. I served on the Hollywood Board of Directors during the 2006-2007 year, and on several committees in the years before and after.