A Hollywood Divided

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In Littleton’s TV on Strike, Littleton analyzes the major causes of the discord that caused the infamous writer’s strike of 2007 and the origin of tensions that had arisen between the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) and some of the most prominent Hollywood Studios. The entire situation that erupted in the form of the protests had in fact been culminating for quite a while, with the origin of the tensions traceable back to the origin of the video tape. According to Littleton, the ascent of VCR and the rise of home recording devices brought new problems for studio systems ad writers that were interested in some form of fair compensation for what they had to contribute to the videos. The fears brought about by the onset of new forms of media such as the Internet and its vast file sharing capabilities pressed the television and film industries to find new means to earn revenue as video sales plummeted. The solution in the form of downloadable seasons of television shows from a studio’s website allowed for the studios to accrue revenue once more by taking advantage of the recent trend in video-watching. However, the writers guild was upset and felt that they would be taken advantage of again as they were   in the Home Video era. The Studios in the beginning of the Home video era had been reluctant to give much compensation to the writers of a show for the silly excuse that they had yet to fully understand the market.

As Littleton states in the reading the perspective of the studios, which sought to analyze these new markets

“The goal would be to measure the value of these emerging markets. Gathering more information over time would allow the industry to determine which business models were likely to take root, and would in turn allow the studio negotiators to construct equitable compensation formulas. The rub was that during this three-year period, compensation terms for new media would be unchanged from the 2004 contract. That meant no payment for Web streaming and continuing with the home video rate for paid downloads.”

The WGA’s protests were understandable as writers noticed that studios might try to pull the same tactic with downloadable media as they had with Home Video. The anxiety of the studios over the rise of sharable, downloadable virtual files is also understandable, as they wanted to protect their own interests. In my own personal experience, the ease with which I can acquire new videos of Hi-Definition quality has always been present. One of the major and most recent instances of the Film and television industry trying to encroach upon the Internet’s territory could be seen in the recent MPAA takedown of the online video upload site of Megaupload. The takeover, despite taking place nearly 2 years ago, still has effects that are felt throughout the online community. The fears over the Megaupload site seem to be ill-founded and just another money-scheme by an obsolete system with an obsolete business model. It epitomized the fears of a system that has become obsolete in nearly every aspect, as it was a site which could upload legally acquired video files and share them. Sites that I frequent such as Putlocker hold all kinds of animated films that I want to watch, and makes them easy to watch.

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Tools such as downloaders can download and strip copies of such videos from these sites in prime quality. I find these services more efficient; however, the unfairness of the studios towards the writers makes me even more reluctant to support traditional means of purchasing videos than I was previously, as studios seem to be greedy institutions that merely wish to preserve their own existence, even if it means it must drag down new media like the internet with it. My favorite shows from my youth such as Superman the Animated Series and newer ones such as Justice League: War, are placed on these video sharing sites, which in turn are hosted by various animation websites such as Animeflavor. This is but a sample of why Studios should re-evaluate their stance and work towards better understanding the internet sharing site.

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