Oh, poor LA County

January 13, 2008

They’re losing upwards of $60Million because the Golden Globe Awards show isn’t happening tonight. That’s because actors have done the right thing and have refused to cross the writers’ picket line.

Now entering its third month (it started on November 5), the strike by Writers Guild of America members is all about crafting a new basic agreement and getting a new compensation model in place for writers.

To simplify the issue, writers are not being properly compensated for their written works, because these works are being used in more ways than anyone ever anticipated when the current agreement was crafted in 1988.

For example, when a script is written for a show and that show is subsequently sold on the Internet, in a DVD set of show seasons and even resold to other networks, writers currently aren’t compensated for those incremental sales. Big whoop, you might say, writers didn’t do any additional work to get the material ready for these other channels.

That might be true, but the argument is that this intellectual property is the same as a song and musical artists are paid each and every time their song plays on the radio, appears in a different form or their music is performed live. Written works are no different.

To take this a bit further, that’s why journalists are still making noise about having their work published on the Internet without additional compensation and why book authors are being so stingy with rights these days. Because it’s so easy for anyone to just copy this text from this blog – or any other location on the Internet – there have to be controls in place and an agreed upon compensation structure for additional avenues of release and use.

OK. It’s Sunday morning and I’m meandering because the phone has been ringing and people in the house are interrupting me about once per paragraph. Suffice it to say that I shout, “boo hoo” to LA County and I support the writers in their current battle.

More to come…