Share the wealth with writers — pdf
I don’t want a strike. I really don’t want a strike. [...] Yet I am voting for this strike authorization, and I urge my fellow writers to do likewise.
Why am I not hoping for peace at any price? That might seem at best counterintuitive, at worst to make no sense at all. How to explain?
The answer is that the price is too high. Here’s what’s at stake in our negotiations for a new three-year contract.
[...] First, the companies are still refusing to raise the rate they pay in DVD residuals. The theatrical release of a motion picture has become, in many ways, mere marketing for the DVD, and DVDs have in effect supplanted the traditional syndication of TV programming. Yet the companies won’t budge from a formula forged in the 1980s, before these shiny discs — now ubiquitous — were a glimmer in anyone’s eye. That decades-old formula is such a thin slice of a thin slice that on each disc, the companies pay more to the manufacturer of the box and packaging (about 50 cents) than they pay in residuals to the writer, director and actors combined (about 20 cents).
[...] [T]he companies refuse to let writers share appropriately in the revenue stream from material distributed over the Internet. They claim that this torrent is at present only a trickle, that there is no “business model,” that this all needs to be “studied.” And while they search for that elusive business model, they are offering to pay us at those antiquated fraction-of-a-fraction rates. Never mind that, even now, this unstudied trickle is making them millions: Each studio or network has cited $500 million or more a year in online revenue.
In the last two negotiations, the companies gave us little or nothing, although they graciously allowed our leadership to proclaim victory. Our membership — and the membership of our sister union, the Screen Actors Guild — believes that in 2007 this no longer cuts it.
See also Producers drop key demand in talks with writers — pdf