Writers' Guild Claims Studios Ignoring Earlier Settlement As Actors Get Ready To Strike

from the this-won't-end-well dept

While I have no doubt that the movie studios are being sleazy and underhanded in how it deals with both writers and actors concerning various contracts, it still seemed like both movie and TV writers were making a big mistake in demanding residuals for internet usage. All that does is make it more difficult to get that content online. And, of course, it meant that actors were going to fight for the same thing.

Now, just as the studios and actors had their negotiations breakdown, the Writers' Guild is claiming that producers are not living up to their end of the deal struck earlier this year. The writers claim that they're not getting the promised residuals, and the producers seem to be disputing which content is covered by the agreement. The writers say that all modern content from the past few decades is covered, while producers say the agreement only covers content made after February 13th of this year -- the date of the settlement.

To be honest, the whole dispute is rather silly. Any such system of royalties is going to break down. It may have worked in the past, but it's based on that same old concept of artificial scarcity that makes it more difficult to adapt to the modern economic reality of digital content. By insisting that the studios have to pay residuals on content reused on the internet (effectively getting writers and actors paid multiple times for the same work), it just solidifies the barriers for the folks who employ those writers and actors to adapt to the modern economic and technological reality. The writers and actors are just harming themselves by making it harder for studios to move into the internet era, adding tremendous additional costs beyond what was already paid for.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 25th, 2008 @ 6:41pm

    Re: Cheap WoW Gold for sale

    Does this have anything to do with the subject of the post ?

     

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

  2.  
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    Not Bob, Nov 25th, 2008 @ 6:51pm

    My first reaction...

    When I read the news of the actor's strike was, "Good. There will be less garbage to wade through while they are off arguing over this stuff."

    I can't say that I'm going to miss very many of them.

    NB

     

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

  3.  
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    Mike (profile), Nov 25th, 2008 @ 6:51pm

    Re: Re: Cheap WoW Gold for sale

    It was comment spam and has been deleted.

     

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

  4.  
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    Hen, Nov 25th, 2008 @ 7:23pm

    as if they really need that $$$---right

     

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    FairToAll, Nov 25th, 2008 @ 7:34pm

    I hope everyone gets a residual

    I hop it is not just the writers/actors that get residuals but EVERYONE that had a hand in getting that content created which would included the cameraman, the gofers, the soundmen, the special effects folks as the content could not have been made without their particular contribution and as such deserve their fair share for the rest of their lives too.

    If this sounds absurd, so does the idea of residuals just for the SAG/writers while discriminating against the rest of the lower grunts.

     

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  6.  
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    scribbler, Nov 25th, 2008 @ 7:43pm

    residuals

    The writers' residuals are part of the formula for the pensions of the other contributors to the product. So when writers lose so does everyone else.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 25th, 2008 @ 8:29pm

    Re: My first reaction...

    movies/TV, like all things, is full of 90% crap and a few good gems.

    Good ol' Sturgeon's Law in action.

     

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

  8.  
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    Rose M. Welch, Nov 25th, 2008 @ 8:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Cheap WoW Gold for sale

    .....

    Just out of curiosity, does that count as policing?

    .....

    ...worries...

     

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

  9.  
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    Nathania, Nov 25th, 2008 @ 9:39pm

    I've often wondered if the writer's strike spurred the economy on to its bad status. People were out of work - did they foreclose on their homes?

    Viewership went down, which meant advertisers reached fewer people.

    And now, when things are dicey, the actor's want more money.

    Just curious what impact these unions' strikes have had on the economy. (Plus, it's not like they were receiving poor wages and working in dangerous factories or something)

     

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  10.  
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    dm4hire, Nov 25th, 2008 @ 10:46pm

    I love the misconceptions floating around that all actors and writers make tons of money. They don't. By not allowing them residuals you are effectively saying that it's fine for the studio executives to do as they please with the finished product, continuing to make money off of something that a whole group of people worked on.

    It's true some writers appear to make huge deals when they sell their scripts to Hollywood, but that big price tag comes with so many legal stipulations attached to it that in the end most are lucky to come away with anything unless they're one of the few to hit the jackpot with a script like "Lord of the Rings" or "Insert Comic Book Hero Here." One of the most passed around comments in the screenwriting world is: "Skip it, just write a book and let someone else write the movie. You'll make more money." Screenwriting is the only form of writing where you make something that everyone goes, "hey this is pretty good." Then once production starts everyone thinks they can do better so they start changing what's written for better or worse. Then once everything is done you could end up having to prove that you're name gets listed on the credits for writing the script; look up the meaning of "and" and "&" in screenwriter listings and you'll see what I mean. If you're unlucky and the original script was written by you and not based on anything you'll at least get the "Based on a screenplay by" credit, ooh, how nice. Then the final insult comes after the movie has been torn to pieces by everyone and the director and cinematographer fail to do their job; guess who tends to get accused first for the movie being bad. Yep, good old screenwriter. I recommend reading "The Devil's Guide to Hollywood: The Screenwriter as God!" by Joe Eszterhas who wrote the screenplays for "Showgirls" and "Basic Instinct" to get a good insight into Hollywood.

    As for SAG they are mainly fighting for all those guys you see walking around in the background of a movie or those lucky enough to get their name listed because they had a major line in the flick. All those actors who aren't lucky enough to use their popularity as leverage in getting more money. Granted residuals tend to be for mainstreaming artists when it comes to actors the problem you run into them is that the pattern is set by them. Everyone works their way up and if someone at the top of the chain is getting hosed, everyone below them is getting it too when it comes to it.

    The issue with residuals is that before the internet the only money being brought in was from box office sales, commercial purchase of the show/movie, and rental/video sales. If the studios were only making the stuff available for viewing without gaining any profit off of the material you would most likely not hear anything about it. The problem is the studios found a way to make extra money through incorporating commercials just like TV and wasn't sharing the goods.

    Let's look at it this way. If you get together with a group of your friends and decide you'll make lemonade and sell it on the street; everyone gets a cut based on what they contribute. After the end of the day there's left overs which everyone is okay with, that is until someone figures that they can take the leftover lemonade down to the ball park and finish selling it there. You would still want your share of the profits wouldn't you? That's what it's about. Someone figuring out how to make more money off the leftover film lying around and not continuing to share the profits.

     

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  11.  
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    Mike (profile), Nov 25th, 2008 @ 10:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Cheap WoW Gold for sale

    Just out of curiosity, does that count as policing?

    What do you mean? We have always deleted pure comment spam. That was a post with a ton of links to Chinese World of Warcraft gold farmer pages.

    We get about 50,000 (no joke) comment spam messages per *day*, most of which are caught by our filters. Maybe 10 to 20 get through each day and we try to delete them. If we allowed them to go through, this site would be unusable.

    We don't delete anything else.

     

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

  12.  
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    Jacob, Nov 25th, 2008 @ 11:51pm

    Well, I truly live outside of this sphere, but I can say that living with a SAG member and knowing many WGA members (they are incredible group of people- super hilarious) it seems that the senior people at the helm of these organizations haven't shared how difficult it is to actually put in place accounting systems/processes that would satisfy the requirements of even the recent WGA contract.

    Give it time.

     

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

  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 1:59am

    Well the cuestión is the studios are not interested in buying the scripts they prefere a "partnership" they pay you a initial small fee plus part of the income that the movie produce. The studios get to reduce the upfront cost plus to define what income is. All this discussion is about what you define as income.

     

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  14.  
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    Rick Sarvas, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 6:54am

    -

    I'm really tired of reading about people bitching about getting paid for work they did years ago. This concept is so out of touch with the reality that most of the workforce faces every day. You work for a job, you get paid for it and when you stop so does your pay. I'm happy these guys found a way to game the system and get residuals for something they did in the past, but IMHO they really need to just suck it up and be grateful for what they have because the rest of us don't get anything extra for work we've done in the past.

     

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  15.  
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    Seth Finkelstein, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 7:51am

    For The Union Makes Us Strong

    For a different view, see the column I wrote a while back on the Writers Strike:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2008/jan/03/internet.digitalvideo

    "The idea of collective bargaining, of labour forming an organisation to offset the power of the modern corporation, receives such disdain that it shows something revealing under a pseudo-populist mask, and which political interests are really being served."

     

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  16.  
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    zealeus, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 8:13am

    residual

    You work for a job, you get paid for it and when you stop so does your pay.
    Couldn't you say the same for the studios? The execs get paid long after the initial job is done, too.

     

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  17.  
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    Willton, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 8:45am

    Re: -

    I'm really tired of reading about people bitching about getting paid for work they did years ago. This concept is so out of touch with the reality that most of the workforce faces every day. You work for a job, you get paid for it and when you stop so does your pay. I'm happy these guys found a way to game the system and get residuals for something they did in the past, but IMHO they really need to just suck it up and be grateful for what they have because the rest of us don't get anything extra for work we've done in the past.

    No, instead you get a lot of money up front for that work and nothing later, which makes the initial cost of your labor very high but makes the cost to reuse your labor, whatever it may be, very low. These folks that rely on residuals have contracted for a different approach: they will take very little money up front, but if their created content gets used, they will receive payment for that use.

    If that sounds anathema to you, fine, but that's the business that the producers wanted: they wanted to pay very little money for the content up front so that in the event that the content fails as a money-making endeavor, the producers can abandon it with little sunk costs. The writers agreed to this model on the condition that if the content succeeds as a money-making endeavor, the creators would receive a cut of the profit that is proportionate to the amount of success the content achieves. This is called negotiating a contract, specifically a business or labor contract.

    In my opinion, this is a more equitable way of doing business, but if you don't like it, you don't have to do it. These people, however, accepted this model, so they are within their rights to cry foul when one side of the agreement is not holding up its end of the deal.

     

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  18.  
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    mobiGeek, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 10:03am

    Re: residual

    Depends on what they are getting paid to do. If they are paid to continue the revenue stream from an already-created work (syndication, dvd sales, branding, sequels, etc...) then they are getting paid to continue pushing the work.

     

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  19.  
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    JB, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 10:33am

    I'll do a few scenes in a movie if these so called 'actors' don't want to do it. What does it take? Reading a script and memorizing a hundred or so lines at a time, imbuing emotion into those lines and portraying that emotion through body language, willing to take direction and try things out multiple ways? I've done that instinctively for years.

     

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

  20.  
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    Willton, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 12:07pm

    Royalties do not create barriers to entry

    By insisting that the studios have to pay residuals on content reused on the internet (effectively getting writers and actors paid multiple times for the same work), it just solidifies the barriers for the folks who employ those writers and actors to adapt to the modern economic and technological reality. The writers and actors are just harming themselves by making it harder for studios to move into the internet era, adding tremendous additional costs beyond what was already paid for.

    Nonsense. This is the agreement that the studios wanted: a system of royalties in exchange for paying very little money up front, as I illustrated in my earlier post. In my view, it converts sunk cost into marginal cost. Obviously, it's not a 1:1 conversion in all cases, but it does allow one with few resources, or at least fewer than what would normally be necessary to start a business, to enter this field as a supplier of entertainment.

    In my view, a barrier to entry is the initial outlay of money and resources that is needed in order to start a business, not the marginal cost that must be paid in order to maintain a business as a going concern. The royalty system lessens the former by increasing the latter. Thus, this system of royalty payments does not create a barrier to entry; if anything, it deconstructs the normal barrier and instead makes the hill steeper to climb.

    Perhaps a system that requires a large up-front cost (purchasing each and every piece of content w/ an assignment of copyright) with little maintenance cost (no royalties to labor) is preferable to you. Realize, however, that in this field, such a model will make fewer people able to enter the market, even though it will be cheaper to maintain their businesses once they do. I don't know (and neither do you) whether such a system would make all parties richer, but given the failure rate of artistic content as money-making mechanisms, I can understand why the studios chose the royalty-based model over your proposal.

     

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  21.  
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    Rekrul, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 3:03pm

    How many shows will get cancelled if another strike happens? Some shows are still recovering from the last strike and an actors' strike will put the final nails in their coffins. The actors employed by those shows lose, the writers who write for those shows lose and the viewers lose.

    Meanwhile, the networks will just produce more "reality" shows to fill the gap, employing contestants rather than actors.

     

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  22.  
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    Sean, Nov 27th, 2008 @ 1:42pm

    This article is crap, full of ignorance and is completely one-sided.

    To the author of this...since you obviously didn't do any homework, you do realize that Producers and Directors gave themselves the rights to internet residuals when it came time for them to renegotiate the contracts? You do realize that those Producers and Directors had no trouble getting that deal done, without the threat of strike action? They also got that deal in place while the Writers were out on strike and being denied the same things Producers and Directors were given without much of a fight?

    This article is obviously not written by someone privy to the proper information, let alone any understanding of it.

    Without writers, all of these shows and movies would come to an end, just like that. Do they make a shitload of money up front? No, not at all. A VERY FEW writers get buckets of money, only because of their past successes and because they fought to get those rights in previous contract negotiations.

    Why Actors are having a problem getting the same deal as Writers, Producers and Directors, just breaks down to the slimeball practices of the film companies.

     

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  23.  
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    Negus Moshe, Dec 14th, 2008 @ 12:31pm

    Re: I hope everyone gets a residual

    This is exactly how I see it....great observation and consideration of others and all as a whole.


    Negus:Author "The Veil"

     

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  24.  
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    JZY, Jan 10th, 2009 @ 5:25pm

     

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  25.  
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    ankara nakliyat, Jan 20th, 2009 @ 12:49am

    ankara evden eve nakliyat

    good article.

     

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

  26.  
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    sdf, Oct 25th, 2010 @ 12:54am

    sdfsdf

    sdfsdfsdf

     

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

  27.  

    Beylikdz evden eve nakliyat firmaları

    gzel ve faydalı bir makale olmuş..

    http://www.beylikduzu-nakliyat.net/

     

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

  28.  
    identicon
    evden eve nakliyat, Dec 21st, 2013 @ 12:31am

    evden eve nakliye

    teşekrler

     

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

  29.  
    identicon
    evden eve nakliyat, Dec 21st, 2013 @ 12:33am

    www.egesoy.com

    şehir ii şehirler arası taşıma

     

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

  30.  
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    İstanbul evden eve nakliyat, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 4:54am

    İstanbulda nakliyat firmaları

    been very successful article. Congratulations

     

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

  31.  
    identicon
    istambul evden eve nakliyat, Jan 29th, 2014 @ 8:50am

    volkan

    tenkyou.

     

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

  32.  
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    Diyarbakr evden eve, Apr 22nd, 2014 @ 1:58am

    Trkiye

    Very good

     

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


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