San Francisco, CA — Next time you see an iPod commercial with those cool dancing silhouettes, look carefully. They might be carrying picket signs. The Silhouette Guild, a division of SAG, has filed a class action suit against Apple, claiming deceptive practices and seeking $14.2 million in back wages and punitive damages.
The silhouettes’ legal action centers around six commercials that ran in 2008. In these commercials, they claim, the silhouettes are distinctly identifiable human beings. As such, they should have been paid as on-screen actors rather than amorphous shapes. For some, the difference could be worth tens of thousands of dollars.
Gary Gunnison is one of the silhouettes behind this action. “It’s an insult,” says Mr. Gunnison, “Apple thinks we’re just shadowy figures who like to dance, but people know who we are. I get strangers coming up to me all the time saying, ‘hey, do that iPod dance for me!’ and they start clapping their hands and stomping their feet. We’re as recognizable as Steve Jobs.”
Apple counsel Tanya LeDuca disagrees. “These people are silhouettes. They dance beautifully, but legally they are arms, legs, heads and torsos. You can’t tell one commercial from another, let alone one actor from another.”
Cynthia Flemmerer, another silhouette dancer, argues on behalf of her body parts. “In iPod commercial 28, my nose is clearly identifiable in frames 22, 190, 331 and 554-556.”
Preliminary arguments will be heard on June 22nd. Watching from the wings will be SAG’s Amorphous Shapes Union, said to be considering its own legal action.