Titanic Crew Strikes Over Deck Chair Arrangement

from the one-size-fits-all? dept

As a professional writer who mostly writes for Internet publications, the news of the Writer's Guild strike is a bit of a culture shock. There's no bloggers' guild negotiating a standard set of wages and residuals for bloggers. It's hard to imagine the blogosphere going on strike. And frankly, that's better for all of us, writers and publishers alike. The web is such a diverse and fast-changing medium that it's hard to imagine a contract that could address the diverse needs of all its writers right now, to say nothing of anticipating the future evolution of the industry.

A one-size-fits-all writers' contract made a certain amount of sense for Hollywood in the mid-20th century when it was relatively homogenous and dominated by a few large firms. But it's looking increasingly anachronistic today. Thanks to the Internet, Hollywood is on the brink of a difficult transition towards a more competitive marketplace in which a lot more people have the opportunity to get in on the action. The studios will need imagination and flexibility for the old studios to maintain their dominant position. They'll need to experiment with new technologies and business models. Given how quickly the marketplace is likely to change over the next decade, it's a little silly to expect a single industry-wide contract to fairly determine how writers will be compensated for the next few years. We don't even know, for example, if the dominant business strategy for Internet video will be paid downloads, ad-supported free downloads, or some other business model nobody's even thought of. The best compensation structure for writers will be different depending on which of these business models wins out in the end. Also, as the long tail of video content fattens, it's not obvious that it will be either possible or desirable to pay folks way down the tail using the same pay scale as the folks at the head.

If there ends up being a lengthy writers' strike (and especially if the actors and directors join the strike next year) it's only going to create a content vacuum that will be filled by small independent producers who understand how to use digital technologies to produce and distribute content on a tight budget. Something similar happened during the last strike, in 1988, when networks reacted to the shortage of writers by launching unscripted shows like "Cops" and "America's Funniest Home Videos," giving birth to the reality TV format that remains popular to this day. With products like Joost, YouTube, and Apple TV offering alternative distribution mechanisms for independent producers, a writer's strike could have even more dramatic consequences this time around.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Think Harder, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 2:57am

    Trash TV

    Maybe this time around nobody will even notice the writers went on strike. I don't think people are paying as much attention to TV as they were previously.

    Having amateurs do the writing couldn't be any worse than whats on TV now. Those professional writers are being over-paid for having no imagination and towing the corporate line, not innovating.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  

    Are Unions Still Needed In This Industry?

    The writers (or their union) are fighting over residual income from DVD's and other types of media. The news stated they wanted 8 cents instead of the 4 cents offered for residuals.

    How can this not be settled? Do Why are they entitled to residuals in the first place. They don't risk any of their money for the production of TV or movies.

    I guess I'm anti union as I think they are corrupt, extort money from your paycheck, decide how to spend your dues and basically are not needed in this day and age anymore.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Aris Katsaris, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 3:26am

    "They don't risk any of their money for the production of TV or movies."

    LOL. At this point the ludicrousness of seeing "money" as a thing by itself instead of merely a representation of work offered, becomes quite self-evident. Your argument might just as well be used to support slave labour ("I don't see why employees should be paid *anything*, it's not as if they are risking any of their money when they work, we should just feed them enough to be able to work some more")

    The producers offer the "risk" of their money, the writers however offer actual work and hours of their life spent, Max.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Boris Jacobsen, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 3:44am

    Pay Structure

    "the long tail of video content fattens, it's not obvious that it will be either possible or desirable to pay folks way down the tail using the same pay scale as the folks at the head."


    Why not? A percentage is still a percentage, whether of a large or small return.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    chris (profile), Nov 5th, 2007 @ 4:05am

    hollywood is not the titanic, dammit!!!

    the titanic was moving too fast for it's environment and hit an unseen obstacle and sank at a brisk pace. a few passengers managed to survive.

    hollywood has been lumbering along, oblivious to it's design flaws, and will suddenly burst into metaphorical flame as a result, consuming all who are aboard.

    clearly, hollywood is more like the hindenburg than the titanic.

    this strike could esaily be fixed by sending a clear message to the striking writers. they should change the name of hollywood to "hindenwood".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 4:09am

    Wow, missing the point entierly

    The strike is about equity of payment. When a show is provided on DVD, the producers, actors, and directors get a percentage of each sale. The writers - you know, the people who made the plot that makes the show possible - do not. They get a flat one-time fee.
    I like TechDirt a lot, but more and more it seems that the OP's are poorly researched and coming from a very narrow viewpoint.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Mike (profile), Nov 5th, 2007 @ 11:13am

      Re: Wow, missing the point entierly

      The writers - you know, the people who made the plot that makes the show possible - do not. They get a flat one-time fee.

      As do almost every other employee in the world. Your company pays you a fee and then they use your output. Why should writers be any different? This is the same sort of thinking that has the entertainment industry thinking that it needs to get paid every time you listen/watch a piece of content.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 4:25am

    The writers - you know, the people who made the plot that makes the show possible - do not. They get a flat one-time fee.

    I work for an employer - from the fruits of my labor, they get to enjoy a capital infrastructure and generate revenue off of it going forward - however, I get paid a flat, one-time fee. Do I need to join a union?

    If the writers don't like it, why don't their flat, one time fee? Or better yet, start their own Production company?

    If the writers don't watch out, their work might just as easily get "outsourced" like many other industries - as India learns to speak better "American" english, no reason why 30 Rock couldn't just as easily be written in Bangladesh.

    Hey, if we get great plot lines like the Borg of Star Trek TNG, I'm all for it.

    I hope the whole system falls apart - both for the Movie industry and the Music inustry - and let the Phoenix of the new Information age arise from its ashes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 8:11am

      Re:

      You need to do some more research on how the pay structures work. Here, I'll explain it simply for you:

      When a TV show is aired, the stations - your local CBS outlet for example - pay a sliding scale fee to CBS based on total number of veiwers in their area. This fee is divided up to each "person" in the creative process: the writer, the producer, the actors, and the director.
      When a show is re-broadcast on TV - syndication - the same applies.

      HOWEVER, when a show is sold in a DVD collection through say WalMart or Target, the the actors, the producers, and the directors all get a divvy - called a residual. But the WRITERS do not.

      This is what the strike is about, and it is NOT about what you or the OP are talking about.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        lily, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 11:26pm

        See now I get it

        Why the heck should an actor stroll in and make 250K for 10 days work filming an episode and then get residuals and the writers are kept from having their piece of the pie? Seems unfair to me. The way I look at it is this - either no one gets residuals, or everybody does. The writers, to me are the most critical element, followed by the actors, then the directors and last the producers.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 4:26am

    Oops. :)

    If the writers don't like it, why don't they raise their flat, one time fee? Or better yet, start their own Production company?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Scott Lawton (Blogcosm), Nov 5th, 2007 @ 4:42am

    No trackback?

    Good title ... I added the obvious picture.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Seth Finkelstein, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 4:44am

    Spoken like a true management apologist! 1/2 :-)

    There's absolutely nothing in this piece that couldn't be argued for any sort of "Unions BAD, Management GOOD" flackery, no matter what the context or the issues. Which says it all :-(

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Mike (profile), Nov 5th, 2007 @ 11:15am

      Re: Spoken like a true management apologist! 1/2 :

      Hi Seth,

      There's absolutely nothing in this piece that couldn't be argued for any sort of "Unions BAD, Management GOOD" flackery, no matter what the context or the issues. Which says it all

      I'm curious why you would say that. While Tim wrote the piece, I agree with it, and I have a degree in labor relations and am quite well informed on unions and labor struggles. Yet, this is clearly a case where a writers union doesn't make sense and is doing more harm than good.

      I don't see how that's a management apologist position. It's a realist position.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Steve R. (profile), Nov 5th, 2007 @ 5:40am

    Addtional Thoughts

    The news this morning was about the pending writers strike. The reporters made a couple of statements that beg further analysis.

    1. The reporters noted that the writers have not been receiving any royalties from the sale of DVDs. The reporters also mentioned that the studios have been "reluctant" to share this revenue with their creative source, the writers. Seems a bit disingenuous if the studios claim that "strong" copyright is required to encourage creativity, yet they are unwilling to share the revenue.

    2. The studies claim that "piracy" hurts the sale of content. The reporters didn't say anything about piracy, but they did say that the strike would cost $XXX million (or was it Billion) dollars per day. I would suspect that the revenues lost through "piracy" probably pales to the revenue lost from the strike.

    Since I do not know any of the details of the strike or the validity of the statements made by the reporters, my comments are speculative. Though my comments are speculative, if the studios were ethical they would share revenue with the writers and if they were truly worried about "lost" revenue hurting their business, they would settle quickly.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Samuel Clemens, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 5:53am

    Somebody actually writes the garbage on TV???

    Time to get new writers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    jon, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 6:23am

    I would have to stand on my head, drunk and looking in a fun house mirror to make sense of Tim's viewpoint. It seems poorly researched and terribly biased. It is quite obvious that he's decided his opinion based on his thoughts and a headline alone, the facts are irrelevant.

    The most telling part of this "analysis" is that Time somehow thinks his writing is in any way comparable to that of the script writers. I don't mean to say that writing for a blog is pointless, but it is an entirely different scenario in every meaningful way. And given that the two are entirely different he shouldn't expect what is true of his personal blog writing experience to be true for the creative act of writing a script.

    I tell you what, Tim, you folks on here love to say the market should decide. So let the market decide. If Hollywood can survive without the writers of the writer's guild then that's fine. However, if folks need more entertainment than reality TV (the ones that aren't scripted) can provide then they are worth it.

    Sure it would be nice for the industry to be more flexible, but complete flexibility isn't in the best interest of the people working for the industry. A certain level of rigidity is important for people to count on.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Matthew, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 8:06am

      Re:

      I agree that blog-writing is not the same as Hollywood writing (on the whole), but asking the producers to be more flexible is akin with trying to squeeze blood from stones.

      They have been doing their thing for 60+ years and have become so complacent in their ways that they simply do not know how to be flexible, let alone creative. So, along with the reality show binge, we get nothing but (usually bad) remakes of 50 year old movies or 30-yo TV shows made into big screen debacles. And if they're not copying older material they're ripping each other off as noted in the disaster movie eras, and then the surfer movements as far back as the early 90s and again not 5 years ago.

      Sequels suck. So let the writers strike out on their own.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Mike (profile), Nov 5th, 2007 @ 11:19am

      Re:

      It is quite obvious that he's decided his opinion based on his thoughts and a headline alone, the facts are irrelevant.

      Which facts are incorrect?


      The most telling part of this "analysis" is that Time somehow thinks his writing is in any way comparable to that of the script writers. I don't mean to say that writing for a blog is pointless, but it is an entirely different scenario in every meaningful way. And given that the two are entirely different he shouldn't expect what is true of his personal blog writing experience to be true for the creative act of writing a script.


      Tim isn't just a "blog writer." You might want to look up his background., He has written for a number of publications and organizations. However, more importantly, you simply say that his experience is different, but you fail to state a single point for why or how it's different.

      So let the market decide. If Hollywood can survive without the writers of the writer's guild then that's fine. However, if folks need more entertainment than reality TV (the ones that aren't scripted) can provide then they are worth it.

      I think you're missing his point entirely. He's not saying that Hollywood doesn't need writers. He's saying that it doesn't make sense for them to strike over this.

      Sure it would be nice for the industry to be more flexible, but complete flexibility isn't in the best interest of the people working for the industry. A certain level of rigidity is important for people to count on.

      What if that rigidity means the entire industry goes away? That's Tim's point. There are bigger issues to face and being stupidly rigid while everyone else passes you by isn't particularly smart.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        BTR1701, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 12:31pm

        Re: Re: Strike

        > He's not saying that Hollywood doesn't need
        > writers. He's saying that it doesn't make
        > sense for them to strike over this.

        Why not? I mean, why should everyone in the production scheme get paid when a DVD is sold or an episode downloaded from iTunes except the people who wrote the darned thing?

        I don't think the residual system is the best system out there but it's the way these folks make their living. It would be better if they were just paid a decent salary or upfront fee that's significant enough for them to live on but that's not the way things are. As it stands, residuals are how these people make their living and if they don't get paid for internet downloads or DVDs, they're going to see their yearly incomes drop significantly over the next few years.

        Bottom line, as long as the residual system is in place and the directors, producers and actors are getting residuals for DVDs and iTunes downloads, it's hardly unreasonable for the writers to ask for their cut as well. They're doing just as much to produce the product as anyone else.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          identicon
          rtl, Nov 12th, 2007 @ 11:41am

          Re: Re: Re: Strike

          BTR1701 said

          "Why not? I mean, why should everyone in the production scheme get paid when a DVD is sold or an episode downloaded from iTunes except the people who wrote the darned thing?"

          Everytime a building is sold or resold, should the architect get a percentge?

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    ehrichweiss, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 6:27am

    oh let it be..

    I've got a friend who is putting together a production that he wrote. He's actually gotten a very big name(2 actually but I only know the name of 1) to not only act in his production but also the actor is investing in it to the tune of 7 digits. If the writers and directors go on strike, my friend could break through with an almost completely independent movie.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 11:59am

      Re: oh let it be..

      Your friend will discover that the teamsters won't work on a scab production. No trucks, no production. (Never mind all the other unionized trades in production, lights, make up, etc...)

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        BTR1701, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 12:34pm

        Re: Re: oh let it be..

        > Your friend will discover that the teamsters
        > won't work on a scab production.

        Actually, when it comes to this particular strike, the Teamsters are supporting the WGA "in spirit" but they're not walking off the job. They will all be going to work today even though the writer's union is on strike.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Overcast, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 7:03am

    Seems a bit disingenuous if the studios claim that "strong" copyright is required to encourage creativity, yet they are unwilling to share the revenue.

    Yeah - interesting - isn't it... :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Java, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 7:32am

    As someone that actually worked in Hollywood in a previous life, I can tell you that the studios hold much more of the money from a production than is given to the talent that actually created the film.

    There are 4 classes that bring any film, TV or play to life.

    Studios/Producers: Finance and market the production.
    Director/crew: Provide the vision (shared with the writers) and bring the technical know how.
    Talent: Deliver the vision and bring the story to life.
    Writers: Create the vistion and story.

    Each group has a role in creating the entire production. Some roles are much more galmorous and enjoy the fame of their position while some are under-appreciated.

    I am grateful that the studios provide a great deal of money to bring a production to life. However, they should also respect that the roles of the other teams are critical to the success of any film.

    Given the amount of money generated from a production (whether it is ad dollars or box office receipts), there is enough money that they could share it without feeling too much pain.

    Better yet, lower ticket prices so we the consumers can actually afford to take the family out to movie night without going broke.

    While others here may enjoy reality TV shows, frankly I am sick of watching all that crap on TV. Reality TV was Candid Camera, Cops, etc. The crap on now is just self serving, self promoting crap that does nothing but bring out the ugliness of selfish, greedy contestants that are blatanly superficial and shallow.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 7:49am

    ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzz

    The whole thing reminds of when major league baseball went on strike.. apart from the fanatical few, most people's reaction was 'who cares?'.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    The Man, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 8:22am

    Bloggers

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Tin Ear, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 9:43am

    Next Season's Hot Line-up: Reruns!

    The only people I see this affecting (in Hollywood) are the folks working in series based, first run season shows like CSI, Heroes, or any of the daily soap operas.

    The Broadcast stations aren't going to be too affected, as they have a dearth of old episodes to fall back on. The people may not like watching re-runs, but they will watch nonetheless.

    The wheels on the short bus go 'round and 'round...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    zota, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 10:01am

    professional writer

    it's not obvious that it will be either possible or desirable to pay folks way down the tail using the same pay scale as the folks at the head.


    First of all, isn't the whole point of "long tail" recognizing the value of content all the way down the tail, and not just at the head?

    Also, the writers the only ones who don't get a part of the DVD long tail sales. As in zero tail. The writers want to be part of the same "tail" as the other content creators, hence the strike.

    Buzzword-based disinformation and old fashioned ignorance, all wrapped up in a tidy package of anti-union knee-jerkery. I guess that's why you're the "professional writer"?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Mike (profile), Nov 5th, 2007 @ 11:22am

      Re: professional writer

      First of all, isn't the whole point of "long tail" recognizing the value of content all the way down the tail, and not just at the head?

      But the point is that the value can be different along the tail. Prior to the long tail the value down below was "zero." Now it's something greater than zero, but it might not be as great as being in the "short head."

      Also, the writers the only ones who don't get a part of the DVD long tail sales. As in zero tail. The writers want to be part of the same "tail" as the other content creators, hence the strike.

      You're looking at this wrong. Assuming producers can make money from other sources (DVD, internet) it will give them more money to pay for more writers in the future. So they ARE getting paid, just not as directly.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 10:51am

    hope it is a long strike

    As it is it is hard to keep up with all the new shows on now. Maybe a nice long strike will allow me to download and watch some of the series I never had time for before...like 24, heroes, lost, and a few others that if you dont start watching from the start you shouldnt bother watching at all. So go ahead and shut down hollywood there is already many years worth of material out there for us to watch while you whine about having to work and get paid like the rest of the country.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    scate, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 10:56am

    I gotta pile on here. Tim is "missing the boat" on this one. As AC 8:11am and Zota have noted, this is a strike about writers getting a fair stake in the long tail the same way other creative do.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    t.swift, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 10:57am

    Tom Cruise will save the day!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Dirko, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 10:58am

    misplaced!

    >> As a professional writer who mostly writes for Internet publications, the news of the Writer's Guild strike is a bit of a culture shock.

    As a professional writer, you should stop misplacing your modifiers. :) I suggest:

    >> As a professional writer who mostly writes for Internet publications, I am experiencing a minor culture shock in the upcoming Writer's Guild strike.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    zota, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 11:37am

    missing the point?

    This is the same sort of thinking that has the entertainment industry thinking that it needs to get paid every time you listen/watch a piece of content.


    Is it the same sort of thinking that has bloggers getting paid every time someone loads content on their ad-supported site? Maybe Google should pay websites a flat fee...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Mike (profile), Nov 5th, 2007 @ 2:22pm

      Re: missing the point?

      Is it the same sort of thinking that has bloggers getting paid every time someone loads content on their ad-supported site? Maybe Google should pay websites a flat fee...

      This is getting pointless to argue. If you can't understand the difference between ad supported content (and why ads are paid on a ppc basis) and writing content and reselling it, it's not worth the time to explain the difference to you.

      However, I'd argue that you should look to understand where the scarcity is and where the abundance is. Don't be surprise that abundance is priced at zero and scarcity is priced above zero. It makes perfect sense...

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 11:51am

    something greater than zero, but it might not be as great as being in the "short head."


    If the content creator isn't being paid for content down the tail, then the value passed to them is not greater than zero. It is zero.


    Assuming producers can make money from other sources (DVD, internet) it will give them more money to pay for more writers in the future. So they ARE getting paid, just not as directly.



    When the writers agreed to the current fee structure, it was because the producers claimed that DVDs were just this extra little thing and they couldn't afford to pay writers yet. Now that DVD sales are increasingly profitable compared to broadcast, the producers (and directors and actors) are getting a percentage of the sales.

    For some reason, the people who are getting paid a percentage of sales feel that this model is great for them personally, but they don't see any reason to share the profits with the writers. Go figure.

    For some reason it's usually the people getting paid directly who argue in favor of trickle-down economics.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Seth Finkelstein, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 12:24pm

    Generic reasoning means generic fallacies

    Mike, if it's a generic bit of anti-union flackery, of course it applies as generic anti-union flackery - that's true by definition.

    Industries are always changing. Unions typically cover a wide range of jobs.

    And point of transition are times when unions makes sense more than ever, because that's when management tries to take advantage of the new business models to bust unions and lower wages - this should be elementary.

    Here's a great explanation from a blogger who writes in the industry: http://www.newsfromme.com/archives/2007_11_05.html#014307

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  

    Aris Katsaris Response

    What does slave labor have to do with anything? Where did I state they should be paid "nothing"? I said that writers get paid for writing and I don't agree they are entitled to residual income for this service.

    If you were an employee of a retail company, should you get a percentage of what they sell? I have no problem for trying to get whatever you can financially from an employer, but the employer should have the right to say "screw you", I'm not giving you any residual income and if you don't like it, go find another employer who will pay you what you want.

    Some of you sound like the writers on strike have such special talents, that they can't be replaced. I'm sure if it was not for the union, there would be lines of other writers wanting the jobs the writers left and willing to do it without residuals.

    Let things like this run their natural course. If the studios hold out but can't produce shows that the public will watch, then so be it. They will have to make a business decision at that time. If the writers hold out, then they can walk the picket lines for years if that's what they want to do or they can concede and go back to work.

    Or the easiest solution, find a "happy medium" and compromise so everyone can get back to work.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Shun, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 2:34pm

    I'm with the pirates

    In this colossal war between the writers and studios, it is a sure bet that there can be only one winner: can you say "Arghhh...matey"?

    #11 has it right. On both counts. The studios are being hypocrites with their "Copyright protects everyone in the ip food chan." Gee, except maybe the actual creators of the work? Nah, who could forget about them? Apparently, Hollywood can.

    I see this as a straight power grab by the studios. The emphasis on reality TV is telling. Where did all of the professional actors, writers, and directors go? Out the window, apparently. The trend continues, with the greedy corporations unwilling to share even the little bit that gets brought in by DVD's and net distribution (gee, I wonder why the studios would be so keen to protect that little nest egg?)

    Network Television is like Amateur Porn, with less talent. You'd never catch me watching it, except late at night under a blanket.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Seth Finkelstein, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 2:47pm

    FYI - "reality" shows have writers

    By the way folks, so-called "reality" shows have writers too. They just aren't called that by title.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    zota, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 3:26pm

    pointless

    If you can't understand the difference between ad supported content...

    Oh I see. Ad supported content. Like broadcast media for example? Or streamed web videos?

    You're right, Mark. You apparently have an ideological bias against certain content creators getting paid. So be it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Mike (profile), Nov 5th, 2007 @ 5:26pm

      Re: pointless

      Oh I see. Ad supported content. Like broadcast media for example? Or streamed web videos?

      Yes. I'm not sure what your point is. For example, we here at Techdirt pay our writers a salary. They don't get a cut of the ad revenue, but they're happier with a straight salary, like most people. It's the company that gets the ad revenue. What's wrong with that?

      If we come up with more ways to make revenue (as we have over the years) we don't say "oh we can't do this unless we give our analyst team a cut". We figure out ways to give them raises and pay them more, but as a flat rate.

      You apparently have an ideological bias against certain content creators getting paid. So be it.

      Huh? Are you nuts? I have no ideological bias against content creators getting paid. It's the exact opposite. I want them to get paid and I want them to get paid quite a bit. You do realize that Techdirt pays a lot of people a lot of money to create content, don't you? All we're saying is that it's silly to assume that every time anyone adds a distribution channel, every person up and down the line needs an additional cut of the immediate revenue.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Jon, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 3:40pm

    New media IS a problem

    One of the real contentions in the strike is over new media, and by the way, not a SINGLE one of the guilds yet has a contract that includes new media/digital media residuals. They all either make you use their existing broadcast (albeit low-budget) contracts or you go non-union. And a low budget contract means death for a new media project because the budgets are SO low. This is the price of the democratization of who can make media... as a whole, I think it's a good thing.

    But to compare New Media to DVD's is just plain wrong. DVD's were a physical product, with an already verifiable market (home video rentals) and distribution channel (video stores). New Media does not yet have a solid, widely used and accepted distribution channel (and isn't likely to between now and the next contract negotiation), nor a real business model yet.

    I have worked in broadcast and digital media quite a bit, including launching and renegotiating for distribution of broadcast media online with some of the new media heavyweights, and as of yet, there are NO upfront sales payments to content owners/producers or studios, only long tail backend that has yet to appear in any material sums (eg. sums that are larger than the post-production, accounting and legal overhead it takes just to get the stuff online in the first place.

    This negotiation is about to guarantee that WGA writers have no place in tomorrows world of content creation and if SAG, AFTRA and DGA follow suit, they're showing themselves to early retirement door as well.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    zota, Nov 6th, 2007 @ 6:15pm

    I have no ideological bias against content creators getting paid.

    Could you explain why an actor, director or producer deserves residuals and the writer does not? Clearly I don't "get" this whole new economy thing, so please explain slowly.


    You do realize that Techdirt pays a lot of people a lot of money to create content, don't you?

    And good for you.

    Let me know when you start paying your project managers $60 million a pop while your writers continue getting a flat fee. When that happens, I bet your writers will have some questions for you.


    it's silly to assume that every time anyone adds a distribution channel, every person up and down the line needs an additional cut of the immediate revenue.

    Could you explain (again, please forgive me for being slow) why writers are the only person in the line who should not get a cut?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    zota, Nov 6th, 2007 @ 6:24pm

    they're happier with a straight salary, like most people.

    People like Sumner Redstone...

    Metroblogging LA

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    HipNerd, Nov 10th, 2007 @ 1:03am

    With the Writers

    I'm with the writers on this. Other people involved in TV and movie production get residuals. The writers got dissed on DVD sales, and they don't want the same to happen with online content. The studios are saying they can't pay the writers for online content because they don't know how much they'll make from it. Seems to me that any technicality like that can be built-in to a contract with some kind of sliding scale: make only a little money - lower percentage, make more money - greater percentage. Studios seem to be saying, "Wait until we make a bundle, then we can talk about how much writers are entitled to.

    I remind those who are so stridently anti-union that writers and producers are negotiating a contract, both sides have their demands and desires. Neither side wants to destroy the industry that makes all of them money, while trying to get as much for themselves as possible. That's called capatalism. Studios would have standard contracts with or without a writer's union, so most writers would get paid the same anyway. Having a union allows the writers to have more power in their negotiations over something most of them would be subjected to anyway: a standard contract.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Rachel Cohen, Nov 10th, 2007 @ 4:27pm

    The writers DO get residuals, they just don't get very much. The old contract was written when VHS was all the rage, and those tapes cost more to produce than do DVDs. Writers (under WGA contracts) have been getting residuals for rebroadcast, clip use, etc., but DVDs and downloads (for which the writers get nothing) make older shows, series, etc. much more profitable. When an episode of Lost is rerun on TV, the writer, director, actors, all get a residual payment, ie a portion of the original fee that has been deferred. (It's not a royalty, like in the music business.)

    But the Producers claim that internet use is "promotional" and shouldn't result in any payment, even though they still sell ad time during the episodes. As the residual payments also go to the health and welfare funding, Guild members want more money in that pot. If the Studio is making more money from that original work, then why can't the creators of that work share in it as well--as their contact says?

    If the WGA does not have jurisdiction (and solid minimums and mandatory P&H contributions) for original, internet content - then when the day comes where ALL the TV we watch on our living room screens is delivered via internet pipelines...then the WGA will have jurisdiction over nothing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    this is stupid, Nov 13th, 2007 @ 2:10pm

    Everytime a building is sold or resold, should the architect get a percentge?

    The architect should get absolutely nothing.

    But the building contractor should get their usual 10% cut of the gross.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    pauldwaite, Nov 14th, 2007 @ 5:30am

    > The best compensation structure for writers will be different depending on which of these business models wins out in the end.

    Right now, when ad-supported downloads of shows are made available, writers get none of the advertising revenue. I don‘t think writers (or anyone) should have to wait until one business model “wins out” to get paid.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Jash Iku, Nov 18th, 2007 @ 4:35am

    ...none to speak of...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2008 @ 3:34am

    cccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo ooooooooooolllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll llllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll llllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll
    lllllll

    l

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This