Friday, October 20, 2006

The Labor Side of Web Video

Licensing issues with web video have to date focused on music copyright holders and motion picture studios, but a story in this morning's Los Angeles Times discusses another group worried about getting a slice of the pie, actors and actresses. As with all new technologies, it is not clear which payment formulas in contracts cover the new use.

This has been a recurring story from the days of silent movies turned into talkies, talkies exhibited on television, videocassettes, and then DVDs; in music the issue appeared when vinyl went into audio cassettes and then into CD, and now Mp3 files. There are usually payment tiers with the parties having very different views of which tier the new use should fit in. On the labor side, there is a determination not to get taken advantage of again. In the music industry, on the other side of the management-talent divide, some executives still passionately vow never to make the "MTV mistake again," a sentiment that infuses how they go about treating new technological market issues . Digital exhibition on websites, coming after the traditional period of being regarding as the copyright equivalent of the Boston Strangler, is now being embraced, if warily, as a new revenue source.

Enter the Screen Actors Guild. Unlike the disorganized music business, SAG will deal with the issue as a collective bargaining matter, and the story is a good read on how things might play out, including the possibility of a strike if residuals for episodes of "Ugly Betty" appearing on web sites aren't paid.


Anonymous said...

Forget network downloads--what about YouTube, assuming it's able to avoid the Napster trap by negotiating ways to keep copyrighted snippets in its archive (as it seems to be trying hard to do)? Should that happen, my feeling is that there are going to be far more future downloads from YouTube and its ilk than from network web sites. Good luck calculating residuals from that, given that there's no apparent revenue stream to divvy up.

Anonymous said...

I agree.

But I also think SAG isn't helpful in ANY case.

Anonymous said...

No apparent revenue stream? Ad revenue is flowing to someone; at what level it's tracked, though, is a definite question.