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WGA screenwriting credit system (wikipedia.org)
32 points by Tomte on Jan 29, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 15 comments

Famous example I remember is that Joss Whedon pretty much rewrote all the dialog in Speed but never got a writing credit[0] - apparently the rules are written to prevent producers or directors adjusting a few lines to gain a credit, but they don't take into account more substantial contributions.

Residuals are also paid to those credited, rather than those who worked as consultants

[0] http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/joss-whedon-speed_n_5...

I'm not sure about US, but in many places a part of copyright that cannot be given away is the right to be publicly named as an author of the work (in particular, the right to prevent other people being falsely named as authors of the work in public). If this is the case in US, I wonder what would happen if an uncredited author of a screenplay would use that to protest the claim made in the credits that she wasn't an author of that screenplay.

That's part of the basket of "moral rights" that originated in Germany and France. In the US, the tradition of being able to sell (or commission) exclusive rights is seen as mostly incompatible with obligatory attribution. There is an exception for, essentially, studio visual art: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_Artists_Rights_Act and there appears to be some interest in extending it to other works. Other moral rights (like false attribution) are covered in the US outside of copyright law, such as via slander/libel or false advertising or tort.

Yes. The US signed the Berne Convention. Signatories to the convention must recognize Moral Rights. In practice the US's protection of moral rights are much weaker than other countries. There is VARA for statues, paintings, and certain photographs. For everything else the US just says, "no we totally protect moral rights under already existing laws. Believe us."[1]


Studios are paranoid about copyright because of lawsuits. I can't imagine anybody contributing to a project without a screenplay purchase, spec agreement or work-for-hire contract that would explicitly set out copyright assignment.

I am not sure why this posted here, but I found it fascinating. I understand a little better why writers are the only unionised "creatives" in the film and TV industry.

What do you mean? There's a producers guild, screen actors guild, musicians union, AFTRA, and like a dozen others. It's a heavily unionized space.


Member for 12 years while working in Los Angeles. No strikes since the 60s, but that is mostly because of pattern bargaining (the Director's Guild tends to set the terms in their negotiations that other guilds follow). This is good since directors tend to have strong bargaining power; for example, they have negotiated better rates for content produced for streaming media, which were set lower than for traditional media back when Hulu was just an idea.

It's actually the writer's guild that sets the pattern. They come first, then the DGA and SAG. This is why there have been so many prominent WGA strikes (1960, 1988, 2007-8) but few if any from the other unions. The other unions typically (but not always) show their support during the writer's strike, as they have so much riding on the outcome.


The streaming media rates you mentioned, for example, were set after the 2007 WGA strike, not a DGA strike. Before this strike, streaming rates were not just set lower than traditional media, they were not set at all, and the proposal from the studios was... zero. Digital media (called "new media" at the time) was the most prominent issue in that strike.

The others might have guilds, but do they ever go on strike? A union that never strikes is just a social club.

Not much of win there in 2003. I did say in my OP the film and TV industry, not stage and theatre.

There have been quite a number of theatre strikes by various unions over the years. Everyone working together in person seems to make for a more militant environment - or maybe theatre producers are just worse employers.

That's simply not true. In fact if they never strike it's because their union is powerful and can always get what they want without needing to go on strike.

Do you know of a powerful union that has never gone on strike?

The American Medical Association.

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