Writers Guild math?

Written by Cornelius J. van Dyk on . Posted in Blog

OK, so I don’t have an opinion one way or the other about the Writers Guild Strike out in Hollywood, but I did stop by a related link from Wil Wheaton’s blog and noticed a YouTube video titled “Why We Fight“. Now either somebody’s seriously got to check their math skills, totally possible given today’s educational standards (don’t even get me started), or some gross misleading is taking place here. I’d like to believe that someone just didn’t do their math properly.

If you check out the video, they tell you that writers got 2.5% royalty fees on their work. Then to boost home video sales, they agreed to an 80% cut with the understanding that they’d get that back when the home video market was flourishing. FIRST QUESTION: WHY DIDN’T YOU GET IT IN WRITING? So that takes their royalty rates down to 0.5% (2.5 * 20% = 0.5). OK, so they’re getting 0.5% royalties. Now here’s where the math goes seriously wrong. They say that if you buy a movie for $20 (they actually say $19.99, but this is just 1c short of $20 so for easier math, we’ll just use the round figure of $20 instead) then they only get 4c on the deal.

OK, so $20 * 0.5% = 10c. Checked it twice! Its 10c NOT 4c as they state in the video. SECOND QUESTION: WHY THIS GROSS UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE NUMBERS? The problem I have with the video is that they then predicate their entire pitch on the 4c figure, mentioning it over and over and over again. They also state that all they’re asking for is another 4c. Now while 4c appears to be a small number, that’s exactly what they want you to believe. Oh it’s only 4c. We should actually look at it in a sense of percentages. In essence, they’re asking for a 100% raise. When was the last time you went into your boss’s office and asked for a 100% raise? Even better, when was the last time your boss actually gave it to you? I bet NEVER on at least the latter. But it’s only 4c right? THIRD QUESTION: IF THE AGREEMENT ON THE 80% CUT DID EXIST, THEN WHY ASK FOR ONLY 4c? WHY NOT ASK FOR 16c (OR 40c IF YOU USE THE CORRECT MATH) AND GET THE ENTIRE 80% CUT BACK? That makes we question the whole 80% story in the first place. Nonetheless, it seems to me that the studios can correct the math, show that writers are actually getting 10c and since all they’re asking for is 8c, apply another 20% cut to royalties and end this strike right now!

Makes you think, doesn’t it?




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Cornelius J. van Dyk

Born and raised in South Africa during the 70's I got my start in computers when a game on my Sinclair ZX Spectrum crashed, revealing it's BASIC source code. The ZX had a whopping 48K of memory which was considered to be a lot in the Commodore Vic20 era, but more importantly, it had BASIC built into the soft touch keyboard. Teaching myself to program, I coded my first commercial program at age 15.

After graduating high school at 17, I joined the South African Air Force, graduating the Academy and becoming a Pilot with the rank of First Lieutenant by age 20. After serving my country for six years, I made my way back into computer software.

Continuing my education, I graduated Suma Cum Laude from the Computer Training Institute before joining First National Bank where my work won the Smithsonian Award for Technological Innovation in the field of Banking and Insurance. Soon I met Will Coleman from Amdahl SA, who introduced me to a little known programming language named Huron/ObjectStar. As fate would have it, this unknown language and Y2K brought me to the USA in 1998.

I got involved with SharePoint after playing around with the Beta for SharePoint Portal Server 2003. Leaving my career at Rexnord to become a consultant in 2004, I was first awarded the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Award for SharePoint in 2005, becoming only the 9th MVP for WSS at the time. I fulfilled a life long dream by pledging allegiance to the Flag as a US citizen in 2006. I met the love of my life and became a private consultant in 2008. I was honored to receive my ninth MVP award for SharePoint Server in 2013.

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