So, if you've been paying attention to the news at all, you've probably heard that the Writers Guild of America is on strike. Instead of working on new episodes of your favorite shows, they're marching in picket lines outside the major studios.
Because the corporations that produce the scripts they write don't think writers should get paid. You know how if you miss Heroes
on Monday night you can go to NBC.com and watch it? Well, the writers get paid for it being on the air, but they don't get any money related to the reairing on the Internet. And they get $.04 for every DVD sold. The studios, however, get advertising revenue when the shows are watched online. And they make lots of money off those box sets of TV shows.
These shows wouldn't exists without the writers. You know how you think Steve Carell on The Office
is hysterical? Well, about half of that is because he has good writing. (OK, Steve Carell's probably a bad example, he might actually be able to act a blank page). I don't want to diminsh the importance of the actors and their craft, because I know how hard acting is. But acting is easier with a good script. And the actors know this, which is why you'll see members of SAG (the Screen Actors Guild) marching in solidarity with the WGA. Your favorite shows exist because a bunch of writers make them exist. And they deserve fair compensation for their labor.
You might think "oh, it's Hollywood, they probably make way more than me anyway, what are they bitching about?" You'd be wrong. Writers aren't like movie stars. They probably make more than I do, but I'm willing to bet they work harder. And their work reaches a lot more people. And it's not a question of how much they make. It's a question of having their work recognized as their work
And this sort of contract does affect you. Not just because it impacts whether or not Law and Order: SVU
will be in reruns or not, but because it sets a precedent. It sets a precedent for the other creative guilds in Hollywood- the directors and the actors- but also for the way new media affects intellectual property contracts for all of us.
The Internet has radically impacted the way we look at intellectual property, and that affects contracts for anyone whose job involves the creation of anything at all.
Finally, it's a labor issue. I was a Teamster back when I worked for Tourmobile. My parents are both past presidents of their teachers' unions. We never went to the non-union grocery stores. And so, I'm going to stand with the workers. With labor. Because I will always support the people who actually do
the work over the people who profit from it. I don't have a problem with the studios making money off of tv shows. I have a problem with them not fairly sharing that profit with the people who make it happen.
Pencils Down!Read more about the WGA strike