Writers maintain they were shortchanged years ago, when they agreed to a discounted pay formula for home video sales, only to see that business flourish. They currently receive about 5 cents for every DVD sold. And they’re determined not to make the same mistake again, now that entertainment is undergoing another transformation, this one on the Internet.
They are seeking to double the current residual rate for home video sales and get higher rates for films and TV shows that are sold online, as well as residual payments for shows streamed for free over the Web.
Studios say the demands are economically untenable.
The two sides also have squared off over reality TV. The Writers Guild wants members who work on so-called unscripted shows to have union benefits just like their peers.
Producers have argued that writers for reality TV aren’t writers in the conventional sense and claim the union has no jurisdiction.
As a writer, I can sympathize. Those of us who toil in Adlandia receive zero residuals for the work we do; yet the work we do makes brands and agency principals rich.
Maybe it’s time we form a union.