So it looks like a Hollywood writer’s strike is upon us and I say it’s about time. The nature of distribution for intellectual property has completely changed in the past 20 years. If Hollywood wants a product that’s worth monetizing, writer compensation has to keep pace with these new revenue streams that open up. Management’s only option is to give writer’s a fair deal for their work. At least that’s what all the writer blogs I’ve been reading tell me.
To take a more objective view of the situation, the Writer’s Guild of America has really got good handle on the situation, despite the fact that they are in a strike situation. The writers are much more united on the issues than they were in 1988. The studios have proven themselves to be decidedly anti-consumer, be it through the lawsuits of their counterparts in the RIAA or the production of such opuses as “The Bratz Movie”. Since the strike is coming at mid-season, the writers could be able to dig in for the long haul. What sort of mindset got the studios to this point?
After a little digging, I found out that the studios are represented by a group called the AMPTP, which is essentially a bargaining concern paid to negotiate against writers, actors, or whatever. It would seem that it wouldn’t make sense for them to bargain for anything less than the maximum amount of money they could get from writers and their work. But still one has to wonder about the mindset of such organizations. I suppose the closest thing that I can think of would be a criminal defence lawyer, because it’s their job to find something, anything that will find their clients not guilty, or at least lighten their sentences. It is not their job to be right in the objective sense, but it is their job to be right enough to find common ground for negotiation. Their entire reason for existence is to fight for the studios money, but because they have no personal stake in it, they’ll have as few scruples as possible in performing the task. Because they aren’t fighting for their own money, that disconnect will keep them from trying to expand the benefits for all parties involved, preventing a win-win negotiating scenario.
Writing is one of those professions that everyone believes that they can do simply because they can speak English or any other human language. If there is money to be made from film or television, it’s only fair that writer’s negotiate for their fair share of the profits. The AMPTP may employ soviet-style tactics to get what they want, but proper information and comprehension of the situation will hopefully bring this strike to a quick and decisive end.