California Governor signs AB1319 (Krekorian, 2009) into law! This new law updates and significantly expands California Advance Fee Talent Service Law. The new law went into effect on
January 1, 2010. Text of the new law:
The Dept of Labor (DLSE) list of businesses that have posted a Talent Service Bond (Excel).
Buyer Beware -- do your homework!
Letters of support for AB 1319
including Disney, MPAA, and SAG.
See the press conference here:
Directed to potential talent services, here is a letter from the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office, explaining how to be compliant with the new law:AB1319 Notification Letter
CD Workshop Guidelines, published by the CSA (Casting Society of America):
For actors and parents: the CD Workshop Issue by CD Bonnie Gillespie:
Any respected industry publication will tell you that the first rule of showbiz is "never pay upfront fees for representation".
The Advance Fee Talent Service Law (SB1687 in 2005), and now the Krekorian Talent Scam Prevention Act (AB1319 in 2010) were created in California, home to the entertainment industry, to underscore that idea and go further. Even though it is a California law, we feel that actors from other states should understand it as well, because many unscrupulous businesses intentially work in other states attempting to avoid this law while claiming that they have Hollywood connections.
The law was designed as a protection to consumers. The intent was to label certain businesses as what they really are, and to protect consumers from companies who try to get around the California Talent Agency Act regulations by simply saying, "we are not a talent agency, we are a school/website/networking opportunity" and yet...they promise employment. Please note that this newest revision to the law was sponsored by every major studio in Hollywood, the Better Business Bureau, SAG, AFTRA and a slew of law enforcement. This should send a strong message to consumers that Hollywood simply does not do business this way.
AB1319 defines businesses that offer talent services in 4 different ways, and each has specfic regulations:
1. Advance Fee Talent Representation Service (ex. an agent or manager who charges up front) -- PROHIBITED
2. Talent Training Servcies (ex. acting schools, CD workshops, etc.) -- Permitted, but must comply with regulations
3. Talent Counseling Services (ex. those who charge to connect you with agents, advise you on how to get into the biz, etc) -- Permitted, but must comply with regulations.
4. Talent Listing Services (ex. online casting services, background actor services, etc) -
Permitted but must comply with regulations.
The law also defines and "audition" as a job interview.
In short, any company that wants to charge you an upfront fee (for something like registration, modeling classes, or a talent competition), must post a bond, have certain refund policies, and they must follow certain rules about things like their success stories, their "scouts" etc. They cannot promise you employment and they cannot "sell" you an audition for an agent, casting director, or a job.
Now that the law has been passed, those business affected by it are trying to comply with the new regulations. The first step would be to post a bond. The California Department of Labor Standards Enforcement is keeping this list and expects it to be online for public viewing by August, 2010. In the mean time, simply ask the businesses you deal with for information about their bond.
In a similar effort to comply with the new law, the Casting Society of America, the union for Casting Directors, has issued guidelines about what their members may and may not do. CDs are often used as "bait" for unscruplous businesses, so the CSA has defined some behaviors that will ensure that CDs can still teach educational classes, while not contributing to illegal practices. Those guidelines (including that a CD may not retain actor headshots after a workshop) are listed in a link at the top of this page.
An example of a case where a company was found to be in violation of the Advance Fee Talent Service Law (among other things): http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/TAC/40-05.pdf
For a similar view about advance fees in other states: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/services/model.shtm
The big picture is that those businesses that charge a fee in advance are not using an industry standard business model, and thus should be looked at with a critical eye. The law regulates the business relationship to increase the protection of the consumer. In California, many of these business' could be illegal, due to lack of registration or by engaging in prohibited acts.
What do you do if you think you've been scammed? We encourage you to read up on this law and contact your local law enforcement or LA City Attorney's office (since they are most knowlegable about this law) to determine your options. You may be able to get a refund of all the fees you paid to this business in addition to damages.
Special note to businesses: Additional criminal penalties for violating the law can include payment of 3x the amount paid for the service, the victim's attorney costs, a $10,000 fine, and 6 months in jail. Lack of knowlege is NOT a defense and these violations are criminal, not civil. Agents, casting directors and managers should also seriously consider "aiding and abetting" laws that may apply here. Think twice before charging consumers up front fees or participating with businesses who do!