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Usage of Your Likeness and “In Perpetuity”

I’m all for actors working.  Of course I am and of course you want to work.  But what KIND of work?

When I worked as a rep at 90210 Talent, I got a big taste of the different “levels” of talent and also the different “levels” of jobs available to actors directly and via agency representation.  It truly amazed me how many gigs were put out to agents in the first place with horrible rates and usage terms.  In fact I had a threshold of “suck” that I wouldn’t even bother with if the rate or other terms around the job didn’t pay well for the actor (and thus for the agent).  It truly wasn’t worth the time to push the submission button.

But even before I worked with the agency and still now, I get pleas for help to refer actors from people casting things directly.  Because of my large roster of clients like you who I could refer to them to and having cast several projects myself in the past, they trust me to send them the cream of the crop.  I just turned down the opportunity today…here’s the email exchange (names are omitted to protect the not so innocent):

Hi Lisa,

We have a commercial print job we are shooting on Saturday. We are in need a female model for a client for our shoot.  Its for a bedding company.  It would be for most of the day.

The client has budgeted $200 for the model which we know is really nothing. But I wanted to see if you might have a few clients that might want to build their book with this project. Thanks so much and I look forward to hearing back.

Hi So and So,

Hummm.  Let me see if this is something I could post on social media or target in an email but I need some more info first.  I would send them directly to you to vet or just give you a handful of my “top of mind” list.

I need a breakdown…age, hair color, height or weight a consideration?  This is print right, so what’s the usage?  How long and in what media?  If in “perpetuity” I’m a big believer in NEVER EVER EVER…for actors at least.  It’s great for the company of course…So again, if still looking let me know and I’ll toss it to a few folks on my short list or maybe actors in my membership who would be most likely interested after getting the answers.

Best, Lisa

Hey Lisa,

Nice to hear back.  Its print.  Its a super small company so it would be in perpetuity.  It would be useful for portfolio usage and then the day rate.  It would be 6 hours of their time or so.  Let me know.

Age: 25-32

Hair: brunette

Ethnicity: Caucasian

Height: 5ft 6 – 5ft 9

Weight: 110-135

Hey So-and-So,

So I’m not able to help with this. Even before I was in agent land I was a big NO to recommending actors doing stock photography or anything in perpetuity. I know there are a ton of folks who would love a $200 payday but I just can’t be a stand for anything without a closed end usage. Suggest you put it out on your Facebook page. You’ll get a ton of responses. xo, L

Thanks Lisa,

Got it!  I still love ya though!

Sooooo here’s the TAKE AWAY lesson for you.  DON’T be one of the folks who are part of the ton of responses to this kind of work in a breakdown, social media or through a referral.  Why?

The reason I declined is because if you say yes to a “trade for photos” or even being paid for a job that has no usage end, that company or photographer owns the RIGHT to your likeness…forever!  They can use those shots years from now and when your career and image have taken off and you are a more visible presence, these shots you did eons ago will be dug out of the drawer because you’re famous now.  Or with stock photography, they can simply take that lovely headshot picture of you, your likeness and image,  and sell it themselves to any company they want.  Any and all of them, over and over, and you get bupkis!

It’s a never ending, with no legal recourse, BAD IDEA.  I’m pretty protective of you all and I’m very protective of my own time and stand on certain subjects. So I hope you understand why I said “no”.

And I’d like you to say it MORE OFTEN than you do.  There is power in saying no sometimes!  Own it!

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below on TFP (trade for pics) or stock photography.  Also, if you’ve turned down a gig recently for any reason, please share your powerful no.  We’d all love to know!