Guidelines on WGA coverage for Digitally Distributed Content for TV writers

Three issues have arisen recently in the series television arena

which affect the creative work being done by WGA-covered writers and

their compensation. They are:

  • Sale of episodes via iTunes and the sub-standard residual that the companies are proposing to pay.

  • The companies' attempts to have short-form content written

    non-guild for use on cell phones, the Internet and other possible

    distribution.

  • The companies' desire for additional written material, such as

    blogs, myspace-type profiles for series characters and season recaps,

    where the writing is either non-guild or for no additional compensation.

Guild members are the best early warning system the Guild has to

discover new instances of these types of requests. Call us at the

number below if these issues come up in the course of your work. In

consultation with series showrunners and creators and with the elected

leadership, the Guild is proceeding to deal with each case as it arises

based on the following principles:

  1. Guild Coverage. Mobisodes, webisodes, video

    games, recaps and other short-form material that is filmed should be

    guild covered. In addition, character blogs and profiles that reflect

    on the creative content of the series should be written by a

    WGA-covered writer. If applicable minimums do not exist, the guild will

    negotiate relevant rates. Pension and health contributions should be

    made and the protections in the MBA should apply.

  2. Reuse must be paid for. The residuals established in the Guild MBA should apply. For novel uses, new residuals can be negotiated.

  3. Promotional use does not make it free. Many of

    these new materials are being justified by the companies by their value

    in promoting a series. But, unlike the on-air promotion or ad copy of

    the past, these new forms also cross over the line into content. They

    are entertainment. This means they must be paid for as WGA-covered

    writing, including residuals for reuse.

  4. Showrunner coordination of creative content. In

    the same way that showrunners and other guild-represented

    writer-producers participate in creative decisions relating to the

    episodes of a series, they should coordinate the decisions relating to

    these new forms and types of content, which reflect on the series

    creatively.

  5. Guild notification. The companies must notify the

    guild of all new forms of writing or reuse in a timely manner, and must

    provide the information necessary for the guild to protect the interest

    of writers.

  6. Coordination with MBA. Because new technology

    issues must ultimately be resolved on an industry-wide basis through

    collective bargaining, agreements between the guild and companies

    regarding these new types of work should terminate not later than

    October 31, 2007, when the current MBA expires.

Call us if you are uncertain whether a certain kind of work is or should be WGA-covered.

You can call Larry Lorczak at 212-767-7844 or email him at llorczak@wgaeast.org.