Friday, November 16, 2007

WGA Strike

Normally, I'm a fan of the Guys With Feelings podcast, but the November 15th 2007 episode was a bit frustrating to listen to. I guess it pushed my buttons a little. Which button? When an opinion I believe is argued badly.

Nash and his buddy Dry Times are discussing the WGA strike and Dry Times states that he doesn't like the strike tactic and kind of sides with the studio position that they'd rather pay writers a flat fee for their work. Nash is completely incapable of arguing his point effectively, re-stating his position that there is "money to be made" on content and that writers should be able to participate in the profit of a venture.

Completely ignored issues:

Writers are selling something important, not just their ideas and creativity, but the copyright to the writing.

Selling a script is not like selling a chair. If someone sells a script idea to a show that gets made, the recipient of the copyright has the ability to sell the show over and over again. Broadcast television and it's advertising revenue. Syndication revenue. Theater sales, in the case of movies. DVD revenue. On-line revenue. Ways of selling content that haven't been dreamed up yet. The original Star Trek series ran in the late 1960's. Today, I can buy the episodes on iTunes.

It isn't as simple as asking writers to accept some kind of up-front deal for their work (get paid a little more at initial sale, but not participate in on-going revenue streams). The reason is that studios have a competing agenda: controlling the up-front costs of a new venture. It doesn't make sense that every pilot episode writer should be paid as if they're writing for Seinfeld. An easy remedy is for writers to be profit participants for every revenue stream that a show generates. That way, up-front costs are controlled, but as a show becomes successful and generates more an more revenue, all the people instrumental in making it a success share in the windfall.

Residuals are better than studios just licensing the copyright of a script for specific media than only exists today and needing to negotiate payment for the rights of every new outlet for them to sell the content.

Found a funny clip from some Daily Show writers:


  1. wait--you mean major corporations should do something logical and ethical like share profits with the people who make them possible in the first place?

    i think that would be the end of life as we know it...