Tuesday, December 18, 2007


I always cringe when I see the words "worldwide unlimited rights" in a commercial or print contract. I mean, how much is something like that worth? And, why aren't they paying me that much?

So I get this call yesterday from someone at the production company that made my last commercial. This is the one for a company called Orange, which I think is based in France. I'm still not sure what this company does. At first, I thought it was a bank. But then I looked it up and I think they're some sort of AT&T-like company.

The company, through their ad agency, Publicis, wants to add on some territories such as Europe, Africa, and also the ambiguous designation, "worldwide." They try to give you numbers for how much each of these territories are worth. I'm glad that they're willing to pay me for these extra territories, but there's some other verbiage I'm not liking in the contract.

These words make me cringe even more, in fact: non-commercial use. Now, what could that possibly mean in the age of YouTube, I wonder? Before, it may have meant that the production company wanted to use the commercial in their directors' reel at a trade show or on their company website. Now, non-commercial means anything the ad agency hasn't directly paid to air.

That's where I think SAG has failed us actors. When a union-made spot suddenly starts to air on YouTube or some other video site, the actors make nothing, and the company gets a lot of free publicity. If SAG knew better, they would've made a stipulation that if a commercial becomes viral, and beyond the company's control over its distribution, then the company is liable for paying its actors a lump sum, based on number of overall downloads or views.

Let me put it this way. Let's say a company used your image, paid you money, edited in some video of a naked Paris Hilton, and then let that spot be uploaded and downloaded millions of times, worldwide, without any additional compensation to you. Would you enjoy all the free public use of your image?

Well, maybe you would. I wouldn't. I'm in this for the money, not the fame.

Now, I know that some say money comes with fame. If that's the case, I'd rather walk away from this industry altogether.

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