EXCLUSIVE: SAG-AFTRA has won its first tangible victory in its seven-week-old strike against the video game industry: it’s gotten the companies to take down a strike news website the union says infringed its trademark.
The companies’ old website included “sagaftra” in its domain name – sagaftravideogames.com. Hours after it went up on October 28, the union fired off an angry response demanding the companies “immediately cease infringing” on the union’s trademark and “desist in its promotion of a deceptive website that masquerades as a SAG-AFTRA communications platform.”
After a flurry of correspondence, the companies have now agreed to strike the site and put up a new one at videogamestrikenews.com.
“Our fight isn’t over URL addresses, it’s to get a contract,” said Sam Singer, the companies’ strike spokesman. “So in an effort to be good partners and in good sportsmanship, we are not going to use that address and have turned it over to the union, even though it was not legally necessary. We believe it was a proper, legal and fair use of the SAG-AFTRA name. But we have agreed to remove it, and change it to videogamesstrikenews.com. Our interest is to have a good and fair contract that meets the needs of the companies and the performers. Our doors remain open to the union for continued discussions about a new contract.”
The 50-day-old strike is the first since SAG and AFTRA merged in 2012, and it’s now the fifth longest in SAG history. On Sunday, it will become the fourth longest of SAG’s nine strikes in the guild’s 83-year history.
SAG’s 2000 commercials strike lasted 183 days; its 1980 strike against the film and TV industry to establish contract terms for pay-TV and videocassettes lasted 95 days; its first strike — the commercials strike of 1952-1953 — lasted 80 days; and the commercials strike of 1978-1979 lasted 51 days.
The ongoing video games strike is already longer than the 43-day strike of 1960 to establish residuals for films licensed to television; the 40-day SAG animation strike of 1987; the 26-day SAG/AFTRA commercials strike of 1988; and the 11-day strike of 1955 over TV residuals.
As was the case in many of the union’s past strikes, residuals are the key issue in the current walkout. The guild wants to give game companies the option of paying an upfront bonus to performers, or pay back-end residuals on successful games. The companies have steadfastly refused to include any residuals formula in the collective bargaining agreement.