that strike thing : part iv : how many dvds does it take to fill a gas tank?
This is —
An enormously informative article on residuals and the writers strike :
That is written by Douglas McGrath the writer/director of Emma, Nicholas Nickleby, Infamous and also the co-author with Woody Allen of Bullets Over Broadway. To quote a short section —
The residual has been established practice since 1960, when the Writers Guild first went on strike for it. Before that no one was given residuals. The writers of the imperishably entertaining “I Love Lucy,” a show that has run without stop, making hundreds of millions of dollars for its owners, have never received royalties for that work. Nor have the writers of that other masterpiece of ’50s home life, “The Honeymooners.” The networks argued then that there was no precedent for it, that the medium was too new. To the studios the idea of equitable payment for writers always seems new.
But peace was made, after the sacrifices of the dedicated people in that strike, and a formula was set that worked for a long time. When video came into being, a new accommodation was made, allowing a small residual for tapes and then DVDs. I am not being hyperbolic when I say “small.” For a DVD sold for $19.99, we are paid 4 cents. To put that in perspective, that means that to pay for one tank of gas, a writer needs to sell 1,500 DVDs. To put it another way, it’s a penny less than if we returned an empty can of Coke.