Attorneys for Sony ex-employees have reached an agreement in principle with Sony Pictures in their class action suit resulting from last year’s hack and their compromised personal data. Attorney Daniel Girard told The Hollywood Reporter that the deal came together after months of discussions and a mediation session. Sony’s motion to dismiss was denied, but the judge has not yet ruled whether there is enough commonality in the claims to file a class action suit nor whether specific damages could be proven due to other corporate hacks that have occurred. The former employees will have the opportunity to opt out of claims to continue separate legal action against Sony.
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Animation Companies Sued for Wage-Fixing
According to Variety, a federal judge refused to dismiss a lawsuit against Walt Disney Company, Dreamworks Animation, Sony ImageWorks, and other companies alleging they violated antitrust laws by conspiring to set animation wages through nonpoaching agreements. The suit was filed by three former animation employees at Rhythm & Hues, Walt Disney Feature Animation, and ImageMovers Digital who contend that the antipoaching agreements began in the mid-1980s, when George Lucas and Pixar President Ed Catmull agreed to not raid each other’s employees. Other companies later joined in. Among other things, companies routinely notified each other when making an offer to an employee of another company.
AFM Sues Sony Over Numerous Contract Violations
The AFM has filed a lawsuit against Sony Music Entertainment, Inc. for collective bargaining agreement violations regarding the Sound Recording Labor Agreement (SRLA). The SRLA covers wages, benefits, and other conditions of employment for professional musicians in the creation of sound recordings. Among multiple violations named in the suit was recording work on the 2009 docomentary Michael Jackson’s This Is It, made just before Jackson’s death. Sony called the musicians for a recording session, which it claimed was for a “record” (defined as CDs, records, tapes, music videos, or concert DVDs), when the actual purpose was the recording of a film score. The SRLA Sony signed only covered recording for records, and prohibited recording for film scores. While Sony could have signed a letter that would allow them to use the AFM Motion Picture Agreement for this recording session, the company refused. As a result musicians are unable to collect residuals on the film.
This discrepancy may seem small to the public, but it makes a huge difference in terms of fair compensation to musicians trying to earn a living, explains AFM President Ray Hair. “Musicians have joined together to create industry standards and it is simply unacceptable for greedy corporations to knowingly violate those standards and deny residuals,” he says.
The suit also charges Sony with failure to make “new use” payments to musicians as required under the SRLA for the incorporation of covered sound recordings into new sound recordings and electronic media. Among other projects named in the lawsuit were: Pitbull’s 2012 version of Michael Jackson’s “Bad”; use of the Earth, Wind & Fire song “Boogie Woogie Wonderland” in the 2012 movie The Untouchables; use of the 17 songs from Tony Bennett: Duets II in a 2012 program broadcast on National Public Television; and use of recorded live televised performances of Whitney Houston accompanied by instrumental musicians (covered by the AFM Television Videotape Agreement) to produce a CD and CD/DVD set called Whitney Houston Live: Her Greatest Performances.
“We did not want to go to court,” says Hair, “but Sony repeatedly refused to do the right thing and pay the musicians fairly.
Notice from Sony to Current and Former Employees of SPE Affiliated Companies
Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) experienced a significant systems disruption on Monday, November 24, 2014. SPE has determined that the cause of the disruption was a brazen cyber attack. After identifying the disruption, SPE took prompt action to contain the cyber attack, engaged recognized security consultants and contacted law enforcement. SPE learned December 1, 2014, that the security of certain personally identifiable information about its current and former employees may have been compromised.
SPE has made arrangements with a third-party service provider, AllClear ID, to offer 12 months of identity protection services at no charge to potentially impacted current and former production employees of SPE or an SPE affiliated company. Please contact AllClear ID directly to initiate the enrollment process and/or learn more about their services. (In US and Canada: (855) 731-6013, Outside of the US and Canada: (512) 201-2183.)
Please note that in most cases, current production employees will be able to enroll in the AllClear ID services immediately. If you are a former production employee you will be asked to provide the following information in order to confirm your eligibility for AllClear ID services.
- Legal First and Last Name
- E-mail Address
- Capacity in which you worked for or with Sony Pictures or an affiliated company
- Whether your worked on a TV or motion picture production (or other)
- Name of production (if applicable)
- Union affiliation (if applicable)
- Approximate dates you worked for or with Sony Pictures or an affiliated company
- Location: (city and state, or country)
Due to the high volume of inquiries, it may take several days (generally 2-4 business days) for AllClear ID to validate your eligibility. We appreciate your understanding and patience during this time.
Potentially affected individuals can review the full text of the individual notifications and learn other information about how to protect yourself from identity theft and other potential loss at sonypictures.com.”