Saturday, December 08, 2007

Sensible and Decent--lost from our vocabulary

I support the WGA strike. I suppose many might think that their opinions don't have much to do with the outcome of this strike, but I beg to differ. And as a blogger, you know you'll hear about my differ. And my begging. Oh, you'll hear it.

The Internet is a big part of the reason for the strike. The clever writers have taken to the Internet to prove their point, and I think it is a brilliant move. The corporations that run most of the media (television, radio, news) are saying one thing to their shareholders, and another thing to the writers. Their lie is obvious, and we know this because of the wonders of the Internet.

Writers should be paid a fair wage for their work. The residuals off of Internet downloads and streaming video should be shared with the people who wrote them. Just as a writer receives a royalty of some sort on every book sold, when an episode of a television show is shown in streaming video, the writer should receive some of the money that comes in from advertising that show. I suppose the book example isn't as germane as a music industry example: every time a song is played on the radio, the writer of that song is paid a royalty. WGA writers should be paid for their work being displayed on the Internet.

"If they get paid, we get paid," is a slogan I saw on one or more of the picketer's signs. This is sensible and decent. There is no reason they should not be paid for work that is, essentially, published again and again when it is viewed on the Internet.

I chuckled to myself when I thought of a media outlet that regularly pays this way--erotic ebooks. The most popular site, last time I checked, offered 38.5% of the list price of each book as an author royalty. I don't know how much they pay up front, if anything, but I do know that this site sells about 90,000 books per month. At an average price of around $4 per ebook. These are electronic sales, which incur no printing, warehousing, or shipping costs. They are selling ideas, just like the WGA writers, and the profit margins are much higher than for print books. This is the exact reason the media corporations want to get into the digital media arena. These are the very reasons they give for wanting to do it--lowest overhead costs possible. Highest profit possible. Why not share, if your overhead is so low?

On a personal note, and on a much smaller scale, I pay royalties every month. I am an independent author and publisher, and each month I tally the sales and send off the royalties. I worked out an agreement with my photographer and my web guy, and I stick to it. I will continue to uphold our agreeement, because I am a decent human being.

If an independent publisher like the erotica site can see clear to pay writers a residual on electronic sales, and still make a fine living, then why can't the huge corporations? They are talking about their Internet sales being in the billions of dollars.

They simply don't want to pay the writers. They just don't want to. It is indecent.

Furthermore, it's not sensible. Because of this Internet campaign, the members of the public who might use the Internet for their entertainment are being given all the information they need to make their decisions about whom to support. The clever, clever writers are using the medium in question to show the public the truth. I cannot imagine how difficult their lives are right now, since they don't have income for their families during this time.

They might start writing some erotica, as freelancers, to pay the bills. I hear the royalties are sensible. And decent.

1 comment:

  1. I'm down with the erotica idea, but I can't write it myself without laughing my sizable a$$ off.

    I printed your "commercial" yesterday...I couldn't wait to sell your soapy goodness until the weekend.

    Hope you get some new business out of it...that's my Christmas present to you.

    And if you wind up selling out to Oprah next year, don't forget your PEEPS!