Thursday, January 10, 2008

Why I Side with the Writers

I've been arguing about the writers' strike on another message board and I came up with concise summary of why I hope the writers win:

1. Deferred compensation is a good idea in high-risk industries. It's why stock options are a good idea for high-tech start-ups and why royalties are a good idea for publishing. It means you can pay your talent less up front and offload risk onto the people who are responsible for the success or failure of the project. Frankly I think the producers are being incredibly short-sighted in this negotiation. They see an opportunity to make a quick buck off online reruns without considering the long-term effect the elimination of residuals will have on the industry.

2. In general I'd rather see talent get paid than the suits. Television executives, like recording industry executives, are a necessary evil. As much as possible though, I like seeing the profits from a hit show or song or movie go to the creative people who are actually responsible for making it.

3. The writers tried being accommodating 20 years ago and got screwed. When terms were negotiated for videotape residuals in the 1980's the writers believed assurances that their compensation would increase as the industry matured. Instead they found themselves locked into the lower rates. So they're entirely right not to trust the producers now that new digital distribution channels are being introduced.

And, of course, because in the long run because I think the game industry would benefit from being organized. A victory for them now means a greater likelihood of a victory for us later.

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