Add This

Monday, November 26, 2007

Getting paid for online content at issue in writers' strike. Sound familiar?

NPR reported this morning that the Hollywood writers strike continues and the big contention for negotiations: how and if profits from new media can be shared.

The nut of this story is that work on the Internet is garnering profit in the form of ad dollars for which writers are not being paid but for which producers are earning revenue.

Writers contend that the strike is about the little guys. Sound familiar?

As I repeated often to the powers-that-be in the SPJ amicus debacle, writers are not the ones making a killing off of new media. Their demands appear simple. Residuals are very important to writers and they simply want to share in the profit with producers when producers make a profit.

Sounds simple enough, but there's always an analyst around to complicate the matter.

New media consultant Shelly Palmer: "The idea that you could tie percentages to one piece of creative makes all the sense in the world if you don't understand how producers produce and how studios produce and how the pool of risk capital is risked."

He contends that the failure to success ratio is figured into profits (implying that those profits are much less than writers believe), but of course how that is calculated is, well, nebulous.

Internet entertainment analyst Jim McQuivey: "What happens is that in the short run the producers taking their content to the Internet are actually making a very handsome profit and this is a little secret that they don't want everyone to know."

Well, of course. But then other analysts chalks it up to anxiety and uncertainty about where the revenue is coming from. Funny, I didn't hear anyone say there wasn't any revenue, just that they don't know where it's coming from. It's all very curious.

Writers are all for making that accounting process simple (call it select, focus, reduce applied to accounting): All the money goes to one place and whatever is left after expenses is paid to both producers and writers.

With the stakes this incredibly high, we're not holding our breath that this will be resolved soon.

"I don't remember a time when I think both sides needed to win more: If I was a writer, I wouldn't budge an inch. If I was a producer, I wouldn't budge an inch," says Palmer.

No comments: