Tuesday, November 6, 2007

First Hollywood Writer's Strike in 20 Yrs Fueled by DVD & Internet Distribution

For the first time in two decades, The Writer’s Guild of America is on strike, due largely in part to the growing popularity of DVD and online content distribution. Writers feel like they’re getting the short end of the, er, pen, when it comes to royalties from the sale of DVDs, as well as revenue generated via TV shows and movies distributed in digital format over the web.

The Internet has been causing a lot of stir in all areas of content distribution, given that it’s a relatively new and significant medium that really hasn’t been regulated by any unified standards. The music industry has been the most outspoken about being compensated for everything from digital music downloads, to wanting a piece of the pie from the sale of digital music players that have built-in hard drives. Now, it appears to be the video side's turn.

It makes sense: video is now becoming the "hot" medium, especially online. Who down the line of creation of content isn't get what they deserve? Judging from the picket lines in NYC, and the several TV shows that could be forced to run reruns should they continue, writer's feel they're tops on that list.

The Associated Press quoted a Late Night with Conan O'Brien writer as stating: "They claim that the new media is still too new to structure a model for compensation. We say give us a percentage so if they make money, we make money."

Until the issue is resolved, your primetime sitcomes will probably be safe, since many episodes are written and filmed in advance. However, live shows (like late night and daytime talk shows) might be shaking in their boots right about now. Saturday Night Live will probably look more like Saturday Night in syndication!

As various types of content flood more and more to the web, the industry will be forced to come up with some sort of standard for compensation. This might have been relatively easy with physical formats like DVDs, CDs, and cable boxes, but with a worldwide, easily accessible and updateable medium like the Internet, things could get very messy.