Apple inks Writers Guild of America contract, agrees to better writer benefits

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Apple this week agreed to terms outlined by the Writers Guild of America's master contract that provide its writers with a better set of benefits than directed by the body's minimum guidelines, a strategy expected to impact future WGA negotiations with competing streaming services.




Announced by WGA West president David A. Goodman and executive director David Young in a letter to members on Thursday, Apple's accord could represent a paradigm shift for the WGA's more than 14,000 members.

In particular, Apple has agreed to terms that are above the WGA's baseline for free-to-stream online content, reports Variety. Under the contract, Apple writers who create material that airs for free are in line to receive script fees, weekly payments, residuals and other compensation not detailed in the current master document.

Writers only benefit from the agreement when they perform work for Apple, or more specifically the tech giant's Apple Development video arm.

Goodman and Young believe the new arrangement could play a pivotal role in brokering deals with other streaming content providers when negotiations for a successor deal commence. The existing WGA contract covering writers is set to expire on May 1, 2020.

"First, the current MBA does not contain minimums or residuals for projects on free-to-consumer services (think Crackle)," the pair said. "Terms have to be negotiated on a writer by writer basis. Except, now, at Apple."

With initial backing from Apple, WGA appears ready to push companies like Facebook for similar agreements covering their writing staff. Though "almost all" guild-covered internet content has been presented by services marketing subscription models, certain producers are starting to capitalize on free offerings, Goodman and Young said.

"As this market develops, it will be imperative to negotiate MBA protections for writers creating content for such services," the letter reads. "Our Apple deal moves us in that direction while the 2020 negotiations are still two years away."

Apple currently fields subscription-based media offerings under the Apple Music banner with original shows like "Carpool Karaoke" and "Planet of the Apps" airing on its homegrown service. However, the company last month began to stream weekly reruns of "Carpool" for free through its TV app for iPhone, iPad and Apple TV.

The tech giant is reportedly building out its slate of original programming involving big Hollywood names including M. Night Shyamalan, Kristen Wiig, J.J. Abrams, Reese Witherspoon and more. When, and how, the company intends to release the media cache is unknown, though Apple Music and the TV app are the most probable outlets..

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    512ke512ke Posts: 765member
    This is a plus for writers. The WGA's MBA doesn't include a lot of important stuff, including many streaming platforms as well as the entire category of animation. That's right, if you write SHREK 2, you don't get residuals, even though animation is 25% of the box office. And streaming platforms are obviously the future, rather than traditional networks. Heck, even cable channels make you negotiate your own back end (if you get any) in many cases. So, bravo Apple, for doing a positive thing.

    Although to be frank, Apple is going after such high profile talent, they probably had to sign the MBA in order to get the show runners to say yes. Still, they did it. Good for Apple. Come on, everybody else. You can't make content without writers. It's in your interest to make the job offering attractive to talent.
    edited June 7 ronntmay
  • Reply 2 of 11
    nunzynunzy Posts: 320member
    I wonder what Apple's angle is here. They don't give money away for free. Not ever.
  • Reply 3 of 11
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,663member
    nunzy said:
    I wonder what Apple's angle is here. They don't give money away for free. Not ever.
    The angle is starving the others and getting the best by paying better for talent.

    When the talent pool is shallow, paying better is a good way of stiffling the competition and boosting your chances of succeeding.

    That is a strategy that they use often, most often when its not people. Like buying all the production of face-Id components meaning others are out of options.
    ronntmaynunzy
  • Reply 4 of 11
    asciiascii Posts: 5,627member
    Cool! Maybe next they'll make a deal with the Clothworkers Guild, the Candlemakers Guild, and Scientific Instrument Makers Guild.
    anton zuykov
  • Reply 5 of 11
    512ke said:
    This is a plus for writers. The WGA's MBA doesn't include a lot of important stuff, including many streaming platforms as well as the entire category of animation. That's right, if you write SHREK 2, you don't get residuals, even though animation is 25% of the box office. And streaming platforms are obviously the future, rather than traditional networks. Heck, even cable channels make you negotiate your own back end (if you get any) in many cases. So, bravo Apple, for doing a positive thing.

    Although to be frank, Apple is going after such high profile talent, they probably had to sign the MBA in order to get the show runners to say yes. Still, they did it. Good for Apple. Come on, everybody else. You can't make content without writers. It's in your interest to make the job offering attractive to talent.
    The real plus for the writers and any other profession would be if they could behave as independent people and not deal with Apple in favor of some other option, without resorting to a union....
  • Reply 6 of 11
    bestkeptsecretbestkeptsecret Posts: 2,747member
    ascii said:
    Cool! Maybe next they'll make a deal with the Clothworkers Guild, the Candlemakers Guild, and Scientific Instrument Makers Guild.

    Not sure I get the joke/ jibe?
  • Reply 7 of 11
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,663member
    512ke said:
    This is a plus for writers. The WGA's MBA doesn't include a lot of important stuff, including many streaming platforms as well as the entire category of animation. That's right, if you write SHREK 2, you don't get residuals, even though animation is 25% of the box office. And streaming platforms are obviously the future, rather than traditional networks. Heck, even cable channels make you negotiate your own back end (if you get any) in many cases. So, bravo Apple, for doing a positive thing.

    Although to be frank, Apple is going after such high profile talent, they probably had to sign the MBA in order to get the show runners to say yes. Still, they did it. Good for Apple. Come on, everybody else. You can't make content without writers. It's in your interest to make the job offering attractive to talent.
    The real plus for the writers and any other profession would be if they could behave as independent people and not deal with Apple in favor of some other option, without resorting to a union....
    Most low totem writers have very little pull vs big corps like this, how the hell would that help them. They'd get paid probably 1/3 of what they do now.
    Individual negotiation mostly is good for people that CAN negotiate with a position of force (say lead engineers with a good track record) or in professions with serious barriers to entries (like  most real professions).

    You do know that many professions have stringent restrictions creating scarcities (engineers, doctors, lawyers, nurses, etc)... That's barely different from an union since you pay to get in, have very heavy certification criteria, and have to pay dues to stay in; not to mention having to study for years just to be able to be that professional.

    You won't get that for writers, you want someone good, creative and productive, that's about the only criteria. Most writers are really in a teneous situation at the best of times, that's why they need the protection that group negotiations afford.
    edited June 8
  • Reply 8 of 11
    asciiascii Posts: 5,627member
    ascii said:
    Cool! Maybe next they'll make a deal with the Clothworkers Guild, the Candlemakers Guild, and Scientific Instrument Makers Guild.

    Not sure I get the joke/ jibe?
    I was just joking about "guild" being an anachronistic term.
  • Reply 9 of 11
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 29,235member
    I hate unions.
    tallest skil
  • Reply 10 of 11
    SoliSoli Posts: 7,333member
    512ke said:
    This is a plus for writers. The WGA's MBA doesn't include a lot of important stuff, including many streaming platforms as well as the entire category of animation. That's right, if you write SHREK 2, you don't get residuals, even though animation is 25% of the box office. And streaming platforms are obviously the future, rather than traditional networks. Heck, even cable channels make you negotiate your own back end (if you get any) in many cases. So, bravo Apple, for doing a positive thing.

    Although to be frank, Apple is going after such high profile talent, they probably had to sign the MBA in order to get the show runners to say yes. Still, they did it. Good for Apple. Come on, everybody else. You can't make content without writers. It's in your interest to make the job offering attractive to talent.
    I thought getting paid for streaming was a big part of the reason there was the writers strike years ago.
  • Reply 11 of 11
    foggyhill said:
    512ke said:
    This is a plus for writers. The WGA's MBA doesn't include a lot of important stuff, including many streaming platforms as well as the entire category of animation. That's right, if you write SHREK 2, you don't get residuals, even though animation is 25% of the box office. And streaming platforms are obviously the future, rather than traditional networks. Heck, even cable channels make you negotiate your own back end (if you get any) in many cases. So, bravo Apple, for doing a positive thing.

    Although to be frank, Apple is going after such high profile talent, they probably had to sign the MBA in order to get the show runners to say yes. Still, they did it. Good for Apple. Come on, everybody else. You can't make content without writers. It's in your interest to make the job offering attractive to talent.
    The real plus for the writers and any other profession would be if they could behave as independent people and not deal with Apple in favor of some other option, without resorting to a union....
    Individual negotiation mostly is good for people that CAN negotiate with a position of force (say lead engineers with a good track record) or in professions with serious barriers to entries (like  most real professions). 
    It almost sounds as if you are saying that people who are good professionals, do have a much better leverage in negotiations, comparing to a mediocre "professional". 
    Wow...what a new idea... Obviously, we can't allow that. Lets string them together, so people and corporations have to pay for the shitty job just as much as they would for a good one, because now the amount is determined by the union. It is okay that the quality of the product, and consequently, customers will suffer. It is about equality, after all....(and about destroying the industries as well, but that will come later).
    SpamSandwich
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