The union representing actors is celebrating some good news amid the coronavirus pandemic, noting that the massive COVID-19 relief bill passed by Congress on Monday contains “numerous wins” for its members.
“Included in the relief bill is the CASE Act, which creates a voluntary small claims court that allows copyright holders to pursue claims without having to take their cases to federal district court. This is legislation that was strongly supported by SAG-AFTRA, since it gives smaller creators a more affordable way to protect their intellectual property,” said Pamela Greenwalt, chief communications officer for the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
“The most immediate benefits are the restarting of the pandemic unemployment assistance benefits, $300 a week through March 14, for all eligible Americans,” Greenwalt said. “For those with nontraditional employment, like many SAG-AFTRA members, participating states will make an additional $100 available. SAG-AFTRA led the charge on this benefit for mixed-earners. Coupled with the $600 stimulus check, the funds can make a big difference for those out of work or struggling to get by.”
Also included in the legislation is the Save Our Stages bill, which provides $15 billion for movie theaters and music venues, to help live entertainment survive the shutdowns ordered by government officials to prevent the spread of the virus.
“Finally, the Felony Streaming Act will make commercial streaming of copyrighted works a felony offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The aim is to create greater deterrents for infringement,” a SAG-AFTRA statement said.
SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris lauded the passage of the bill.
“As we near the holiday season, I want to thank Congress for remembering SAG-AFTRA members, with the acknowledgement that there is more to do. The effects of the pandemic will be with us for a long while, and I hope the federal government continues to offer aid to all Americans,” she said. “I also want to thank members who contacted their elected representatives and let them know the importance of protecting copyrighted works. I have no doubt that members’ voices were instrumental in getting this legislation passed.”