Reed Smith Client Alerts

The popularity of social media and digital content has given rise to opportunities for new groups of entertainers and content creators, particularly child influencers. Content creation has become a family affair, with many content creators involving their children or other family members in content. While children entertainers have been protected in traditional media, social media content has not been similarly regulated. Last week, Illinois became the first state to pass a law (S.B. 1782) that establishes safeguards to protect the earnings of minors under the age of 16 who are featured in online videos. Specifically, this law amends the state’s Child Labor Law by requiring that “vloggers” set aside a portion of compensation they receive in connection with their video content if the content contains the name, image, or likeness of a minor. Below we break down the impact of the law, including what next steps advertisers may consider in preparation for the law, which goes into effect on January 1, 2024.

Who does the law apply to?

The law applies to individuals or families that create compensated video content for use on online platforms (“vloggers”), which content is performed in Illinois and contains the name, photograph, or likeness of a minor under the age of 16, provided the following criteria are met at any time during the previous 12-month period: (1): the minor’s likeness, name, or photograph is in at least 30% of the compensated content produced by the vlogger within a 30-day period, and (2) the number of views received per video on any online platform meets the online platform’s threshold for the generation of compensation or the vlogger received actual compensation for video content equal to or greater than $0.10 per view. The 30% threshold is measured by the percentage of time that the minor’s name, likeness, or photograph either visually appears in the content or is the subject of the oral narrative of the video, as compared to the total length of the video.

The law doesn’t apply where the minor is creating their own content. Also, note that the law applies where the content creator is compensated, and is not meant to discourage parents who share photos and videos of their children online, or even those parents who post content of their children that accidentally becomes viral.

What do content creators need to do?

A vlogger would be required to set aside a portion of the gross earnings from the qualifying video content in a trust account to be preserved for the benefit of the minor upon reaching the age of majority. The amount that is required to be set aside must be at least half of the percentage of the video content that includes the minor’s name, image, or likeness. For example, if the minor is in 100% of the video content, 50% of the gross compensation from the video content must be set aside, while if the minor is in 50% of the video content, 25% of the gross compensation would need to be set aside. If multiple minors are in the video content, the percentage that is set aside is calculated based on the total time all minors are in the video content and must be split equally among accounts for each minor regardless of the time each minor was included in the video content.