If you’re trying to write for a living, I don’t need to tell you what a volatile industry writers are facing right now, with the Internet rising quickly as the dominant media force.
I’ll leave it up to Chad Gervich to fill you in on the nitty-gritty of the screenwriter’s strike—which has vast implications for all writers’ rights—on his Script Notes blog.
But on a separate but related note concerning writers’ rights, please read this Op-Ed from The New York Times Pay Me for My Content, by Jaron Lanier.
Lanier, one of the early Silicon Valley Internet pioneers, wrote the following:
Like so many in Silicon Valley in the 1990s, I thought the Web would increase business opportunities for writers and artists. Instead they have decreased. Most of the big names in the industry — Google, Facebook, MySpace and increasingly even Apple and Microsoft — are now in the business of assembling content from unpaid Internet users to sell advertising to other Internet users.
This is a brief, but really provocative (and potentially depressing) essay. Read it in full if you have the chance. The gist of the piece is that writers and artists really get (pardon the expression) screwed (he says it more politely than that) with the current model of the Web 2.0, because people now have the expectation that content (read: your writing) should be free.
Free content is a lovely ideal, as Lanier asserts, but who’s then paying writers for their work? Is it too late to re-make the system and ask people to charge for what they’re now, in many cases, getting for free?
Please leave your thoughts, concerns and crazy visionary ideas here.