Unions Battle Producers Over Ipod Residuals
It appeared Monday that the Internet was likely to become the new battleground between producers and film and TV unions. Unions representing writers, actors and directors each issued statements vowing to fight a decision by ABC to pay residuals for programs sold on the Internet at the same rate as they do for home video rather than at the far higher pay-TV rate. Writers Guild of America West President Patric Verrone vowed that the union would "aggressively pursue all legal options at our disposal." WGA East President Chris Albers called the home-video residual rate "paltry," dating back to "the age of Betamax." Screen Actors Guild President Alan Rosenberg called the ABC decision a "violation of our collective bargaining agreements." Both Verrone and Rosenberg campaigned for office on a platform calling for an increase in residual payments for home video. They were joined Monday by Directors Guild of America President Michael Apted, who warned that the DGA "will be filing claims against ABC and any other company" that pays residuals at the home-video rate. ABC responded that it was willing to allow a neutral arbitrator to decide how the existing agreements on residuals should be interpreted. Despite the fact that they were negotiated relatively recently, none of them specifically refers to online downloads.