The Hollywood writer's strike
Friday, November 30, 2007 by Dave Winer.
I haven't heard it said in the tech blogosphere that the Hollywood writer's strike cuts right to heart of the philosophy of the entertainment industry and what goes on on the Internet. But it does. It's a classic faceoff, and in this case, the execs, the nemesis of the Internet, seem to be taking the side of the Internet. They can't promise the writers a share of the money they make on the Internet because they don't see how they're going to make money on the Internet. How can you share something that doesn't exist??
When we talk with people from the entertainment industry they explain how they can't just release stuff on the Internet, because they have agreements with the rights holders that assume the realities of the old more restrictive distribution system. Those are the writers.
I'm a net native (even though I've heard young people question whether anyone my age can be) and while I appreciate the human concerns, there is no meaningful way to be sympathetic. I'm not going on strike, even though I am a writer. I don't ask to be paid for my writing. I haven't been paid for writing software in a very long time, but I keep doing it. Yet I look in my bank account, and somehow the balance keeps going up. In the end, that's all that matters.
I don't hold on to a principle that I must be paid for what I do. I look at money as separate from my living. I live through my work. Some of it pays, and it's unfortunately unpredictable what that is. Welcome to the net, welcome to the 21st century.
I heard a report on Nightline how the writers of The Simpsons are producing YouTube videos, and they're funny. Of course they are -- the people who write that show couldn't possibly write something that wasn't. They should keep doing them, I suspect they will.
Never mind how you get from point A to point B, we're going there. Creative work won't be directly paid for in the future. And we're already in that future. Read my essays from the 90s to see how angry this made me. Now the anger has subsided, as a software writer, and it will subside for the Hollywood writers too. This may be the moment when the system breaks. It looks more and more like that.