In court last month, lawyers for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences contended that the group’s bylaws in no way required a vote on revisions that had been proposed by member-producer Michael Shamberg, who asked for an aggressive social media program and an annual membership survey. “The bylaws do not require a vote on any and all proposed amendments,” said the Academy’s August 27 demurrer to a lawsuit filed by Shamberg.
“The bylaws only provide the procedures for adopting an amendment by vote, if a vote were to take place,” the demurrer added.
But apparently the Academy is taking no chances. Quietly, its Board of Governors had already acted to make sure the group’s 9,000 or so members could not follow Shamberg’s lead by trying to force votes on member-proposed changes.
According to revised bylaws dated June 28, future proposals now go straight to the Academy Secretary (currently producer Janet Yang), who will punt them to the Membership and Governance Committee, which may or may not forward them to the governors for a vote.
So, whatever the Los Angeles County Superior Court might decide in Shamberg’s case, which is set for a hearing in Santa Monica on November 19, Academy members will not be taking a stronger hand in governance any time soon. An all-member vote on bylaws revisions is still theoretically possible, of course. But that can happen only if a proposal clears the Secretary, a committee, and the governing board, which will consider the change–voting if it gets a proper motion to do so–or authorizing a membership vote, entirely at its discretion.
An Academy spokesperson did not immediately respond to a query about the revision.