What's going on?
The Writers Guild of America (WGA) is striking against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). In other words, the folks who write for television and film in the U.S.—the WGA—is striking against the major conglomerates, like Time Warner and Disney, who produce television and film—the AMPTP.
Why are the writers on strike?
The main reason writers are striking is that the AMPTP refuses to pay them residuals for their work when it's reused online.
What are residuals?
Residuals are kind of like royalties. Writers are paid in residuals when their work in reused, like a rerun on TV or a movie sold in the store. The AMPTP claims that content streamed over the Internet is “promotional,” which exempts the producers from having to pay the writers residuals.
What do the writers want?
The WGA wants a contract with the AMPTP that covers online content. The guild is asking that the producers treat Internet residuals the same way they treat television residuals—2.5 percent of what the AMPTP makes from content.
How long will the strike last?
It's uncertain. The AMPTP walked out of negotiations Dec. 7, 2007, and, as of press time, haven't returned to the table to make a deal the writers think is fair. However, some independent production companies have made interim deals with the WGA that allow writers to return to work.
What does this mean for me?
Until both sides reach an agreement, production of anything that requires the talent of a writer is effectively at a standstill. No new episodes of your favorite show, no scripts for new movies, etc. To find out more information, you can check out Deadline Hollywood Daily, a Web site maintained by Nikki Finke of the LA Weekly, or United Hollywood, a blog maintained by some members of the WGA.
Information from United Hollywood and Deadline Hollywood Daily compiled by J. Adam Brinson.