29 November 2007

Writers Guild math?

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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