With all the arguments about what constitutes fair compensation for writers in New Media, not enough attention is being paid to the more fundamental issue that Thom Taylor talks about in his article in Forbes Magazine from January 17th:
But the media has been wrong to suggest the current battle is simply over cash. While the debate does affect how to divide pieces of the digital media pie (for which writers, after all, create the recipes), the work stoppage is really about the writers' desire to be treated as partners in a creative endeavor, a concept that studios have moved further and further away from. Residuals reward creators, just as stock options reward employees, or royalties reward patent-holders. It's funny that with all the MBAs running the show, studios fail to understand that simple principle of commerce.
He writes about the long-term impact of the 1988 strike, and how we may now find ourselves in a nexus of change that is as big, or bigger:
But it's the WGA's deal with Media Rights Capital that could end up being most significant. Co-founded by a new media entrepreneur who sold his dot-com for over $1 billion, MRC's willingness to form a pay structure for creators' work on the Internet is bound to have studios reconsidering their strategies. ..
As the town starts the New Year, the question facing Hollywood is: "What new business model will emerge from this strike?" Because--as in 1988--it may well be the work stoppage itself that changes the business forever. The studios could be cutting off their noses to spite their faces, because the longer the strike continues, the more inevitably it becomes that their one-time partners will begin to create and distribute product via the Internet--without them.