WGA strike draws music industry supporters

MUMBAI: As the second week of the 2007 screenwriters strike approaches, Hollywood‘s troubles strike a chord with more industries outside of television and film. Recording artists have begun to assemble alongside the writers in an ongoing debate to discuss royalties available to artists through digital media sales.

Television is not going to disappear anytime soon, but it is possibly in the near future going to be replaced by digital media. Similar is going to be the case with the music industry.

Unlike their music industry counterparts, the television industry isn’t attacking their fans and urging them to stop illegally downloading content from the internet. Rather, the television industry is allegedly shortchanging writers from digital media royalties and the writers are striking back. Popular website discussion boards such as Gizmodo.com states, “Unlike the music industry, who stupidly attacked its fans, the TV industry is attacking its own creative source: writers.”

Recording artists such as thirteen-year-old Shamim insist that digital media is the future of entertainment and supports what the writers are trying to accomplish. Shamim is of the new generation that believes everything is better watched online. “I watch a lot of shows online and I’m a big fan of youtube.com.”

Shamim has joined the picket lines alongside the WGA members since week one of the strike. “I am affected by the same things that the writers are affected by with respect to digital media. I am a struggling recording artist who has music being downloaded freely through the Internet. I believe in everything that the writers are doing and I want to show solidarity by joining them because at the end of the day we are all creative people who are watching profits and royalties stream in from advertisers to giant companies that haven’t been paying artists their fair share. It’s upsetting and very frustrating.”

Although young recording artists like Shamim and other well known screen actors such as Tina Fey, Sally Field and the cast of Desperate Housewives have been supporting the writers efforts, other less sympathetic entertainment leaders have been vocal about their opposition to the strike.

On 13 November, 2007, IATSE president Thomas C. Short published an open letter on the IATSE website which was written to WGA president Patrick Verrone. Short states, “I have warned you and predicted the devastation that would come from your actions. Those predictions have now come true.”

Short concludes his letter by stating, “It’s now time to put egos aside and recognize how crucial it is to get everyone back to work, before there is irreversible damage from which this industry can never recover.”

Daily Variety reported that at the time the other major Hollywood unions such as the Screen Actors Guild, the Directors Guild, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees have reminded their members of the “no-strike” provisions of their contracts and reaffirmed that they had to honor their work arrangements during the WGA strike.

However, the SAG website is currently encouraging their members to support the writers on picket lines during their free time.