April 27, 2008 · Lessig
Just after the writer’s (and writers’) strike ended, Matt Prager (who worked for 15 years in Hollywood as a writer and executive) sent me this fantastic essay about what was really at stake in the strike (guess…). Here’s the start:
The WGA strike to date has been more or less characterized as a strike over money; most press reports have dealt with negotiation demands like residuals and up-front compensation on internet streams and downloads, jurisdiction over reality and animation, and other such issues. However, the press reports have missed the central, underlying issue of this strike: copyright. This battle is not “poor laborer” versus “greedy company” – everyone in Hollywood is pretty greedy frankly. Rather, in the same way that fiction is the business of Hollywood, so is the entire underpinning of Hollywood built on an enormous fiction. But to understand the fiction, you first need to understand some facts.
Here’s the balance.