Friday, January 18, 2008

Strike Hard! Strike Fast!

Well, it's been a pretty busy week in relation to the Writers' Guild of America (WGA) strike. Here, then, is a brief summary for you.

The WGA made agreements with a further two companies - MRC, a new media company, and Spyglass Entertainment, makers of films such as The Sixth Sense.

Meanwhile, the studios, represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), who walked away from negotiations with the WGA in December, entered into negotiations with the Directors' Guild of America (DGA), whose contract is also up for renewal. The DGA, unlike the WGA, doesn't have a history of striking; they did strike in 1987, but it was for five minutes (on the West Coast of the USA, and three hours and five minutes on the East Coast), and a swift end to negotiations was anticipated.

While all this was going on, Apple announced that they'd struck a deal with all the major studios to allow material to be downloaded for a fee to their iPod and iPhone products. One of the causes of the current WGA strike has been the AMPTP's refusal to agree on residual payments for downloads, on the grounds that this sort of new media is uncertain as a source of income. As this article from Business Week points out, the Apple agreement may nudge things along in relation to the WGA strike, as all the studios signing up to the Apple arrangement may effectively push the issue. I have to say I find it hard to see how the studios can convincingly argue they're not sure there's any money in the internet when they've signed up to make money with Apple…

Anyway, yesterday the DGA and AMPTP announced they'd struck a deal , which includes payments for internet and other new media use of material, which of course was a sticking point for the WGA discussions, so that's an interesting change in stance for the AMPTP… and indeed, a quick look at the AMPTP's homepage seems to contain a veiled suggestion that the AMPTP might be willing to re-enter negotiations with the WGA.

Interesting times, I feel...

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