Most of my readers get DevHawk via the RSS feed, so I wanted to explicitly call out a new addition to my flair. If you’re not aware, the Writers Guild of America is on strike. When you buy a $20 DVD, the writer makes a measly 4 cents. When you watch an episode of your favorite show online, the writer makes nothing. This video explains the situation pretty well.
Even though I’m about as liberal as you can get, I’m not a big union guy. Neither of my parents were in a union. Neither Julie nor I are in a union. My only exposure to unions growing up was negative, typically when the Washington Opera (where my mother works) was negotiating with the musicians or stagehands. I vividly remember one musician’s strike where one of their demands was to increase the minimum call size to be bigger than the size of the orchestra pit. Needless to say, that seemed like an unreasonable demand to me (though to be fair, I only heard the management side of the story).
In the recent hockey labor dispute, I was firmly on the side of the owners since day one. And while the teacher’s union is one of the strongest bastions of democratic party support, I think the modern education system is fundamentally broken. So while I am a liberal, I’ve never been a big union guy.
However, I’m firmly with the writers union on this one. I spent several hours tonight reading a bunch of strike-related blogs, like United Hollywood. Obviously, they’re coverage of the strike is pro-writer biased, but it’s hard to argue with the idea of a fair wage for Internet delivered content. I particularly like this video which is a series of clips of media CEOs bragging about how much money their companies can make online. Yet – again, according to pro-writer blogs – they refuse to even negotiate paying the writers a percentage of the money they make for using the writer’s content that way.
And to add a Media 2.0 spin to all this, there was a fascinating post wondering if Google could/would “scoop up the entire entertainment industry“. I don’t think substituting Google for AMPTP (which includes among others “big media” like Disney, Fox and Viacom) would be a good idea – new boss, same old problems. However, the idea of bypassing the studios with direct Internet distribution is a good one. One has to wonder how much this strike will accelerate that trend. This strike seems much more risky for the distribution companies & networks than for the writers – even direct distributed content needs to be written, right?