[B5JMS] attn. JMS: A TV writing question...

b5jms at cs.columbia.edu b5jms at cs.columbia.edu
Tue Jul 1 04:24:30 EDT 2003

From: Aisling Willow Grey <aisling at fjordstone.com>
Date: Mon, 30 Jun 2003 15:04:11 +0000 (UTC)
Lines: 47

 >>Peter Schuller wrote:
>>But even then, and this would be the secondly, the guilds didn't think much
>>would come of the VHS market, and gave away all but a few pennies here and
>>there to the producers.  So you literally get about a penny or two off each VHS
>>sold, and this formula is being applied to DVDs as well.
> But this isn't due to copyright law, or am I wrong? Obviously it sucks that
> the *makers* of the "product" being sold do not receive proper compensation,
> but I would think this is regulated through a plethora of standard contracts
> between everyone involved?
> I.e., AFAIK copyright law doesn't have anything to say about compensation;
> only who's got the rights to what. Once they have the rights, they can do
> whatever they want to do within those rights.
> So while I whole-heartedly agree that the above stinks, I don't agree it's
> an argument against shortening copyright periods.
> Perhaps the best thing would be if the makers retained the copyright, and
> licensed the material for use by the corporations.<<

If by "makers" you mean the creative artists, the reason they often do 
not retain ownership in their copyrights is money.  If a composer of 
symphonic music wants to have a publisher, he has to (in most cases) 
relinquish at least partial ownership of his music.  If he does _not_, 
then he can publish himself.  This involves hiring copyists, getting 
masters made and copies of scores printed, getting the scores out to the 
retail outlets that sell them and to the orchestras that rent them for 
performances, having a warehouse and a rental library in which to hold 
these very large scores, following up on the rental returns, handling 
printing and sales problems, marketing and advertising so that people 
even know that this new work exists, and also adminstering the 
intellectual property end of things (negotiations, contracts, and any 
legal actions) -- all things involving time, money, and labor, which, as 
a composer of symphonic music, you probably do not have in spades.  Even 
the very small handful of successful composers in the US like John 
Williams or Philip Glass would be hard pressed to have the resources 
necessary to handle the work of an entire publishing company themselves.

Book publishing is much the same.

I'm sure there are similar examples in other fields of the entertainment 


From: jmsatb5 at aol.com (Jms at B5)
Date: Tue, 1 Jul 2003 04:49:45 +0000 (UTC)
Lines: 29

>If by "makers" you mean the creative artists, the reason they often do 
>not retain ownership in their copyrights is money.  
>I'm sure there are similar examples in other fields of the entertainment 

Here's the great irony of the whole situation, as it relates to TV and film.

The Berne Convention was put together to protect the rights of writers, to
secure for them, by international convention, a piece of the final film or tv

The studios responded by insisting that any writer who works for them must sign
an agreement which stipulates that -- as you will see on endless movie credits
-- "for purposes of the Berne Convention, Universal (or whatever studio) shall
be considered the author of this work."

Cute, eh?


(jmsatb5 at aol.com)
(all message content (c) 2003 by synthetic worlds, ltd., 
permission to reprint specifically denied to SFX Magazine 
and don't send me story ideas)

More information about the B5JMS mailing list