Currently, for every dollar spent on a DVD, writers receive about one-third of a penny. They would like, instead, to receive about two-thirds of a penny. The AMPTP's first response to this was to waste weeks by advocating a complete abolition of the residual system. Why, they argued, should writers get paid anything for their work after it's released?
Oddly, the same executives who speak with absolute authority about the horrifying injustice of paying residuals seem to turn into bewildered children, lost in a fogbound forest and helpless to see even two feet ahead, when they confront the other big issue: income from streaming video, new media, and the Internet. Writers, like everybody else with a brain and a computer, have figured out that this is where a large chunk of the future of movie and TV revenue resides, and they want a piece of it. To which the producers have essentially responded: What's this newfangled Interweb you're talking about? We don't know how it works! Are you sure there's a way we can make money from it? What a silly thing to even talk about! What next, flying cars?
1“The trappings of a union protest…” You see how that works? Since we aren’t real workers, this isn’t a real union issue. (We’re just a guild!) And that’s where all my ‘what is a writer’ rambling becomes important. Because this IS a union issue, one that will affect not just artists but every member of a community that could find itself at the mercy of a machine that absolutely and unhesitatingly would dismantle every union, remove every benefit, turn every worker into a cowed wage-slave in the singular pursuit of profit. (There is a machine. Its program is ‘profit’. This is not a myth.) This is about a fair wage for our work. No different than any other union. The teamsters have recognized the importance of this strike, for which I’m deeply grateful. Hopefully the Times will too.