Under the Writers Guild of America Theatrical and Television Basic Agreement (the “Basic Agreement”), credited writers for television motion pictures, including episodic programs, are entitled to receive compensation for the reuse of their work, also known as residuals. Television residuals were first negotiated by the Writers Guild of American (the “WGA”) in 1953, under the theory that a rerun of an existing program reduces employment for new products. Consequently, residuals are payable for the reuse of a writer’s material, as opposed to the original exhibition. Though initially limited to programs made-for-television and to five rerun payments, residuals expanded over the years not only to include home video, pay television, cable, new media, and others, but also to payments in perpetuity.
Whether or not a television writer is entitled to receive residuals is ultimately governed by the WGA’s credit determination. Per the Basic Agreement, if the guild accords a “Written by” credit to a writer, such individual is entitled to receive one hundred percent (100%) of available residuals, while a writer that is accorded a “Teleplay by” credit can claim seventy-five percent (75%) of available residuals; if the guild accords only a “Story by” credit to a writer, he or she is entitled to receive twenty-five percent (25%) of available residuals. Furthermore, for an episodic series, if a writer were entitled to Separation of Rights and “Created by” credit on the series, such writer would be entitled to a residual on the creator sequel payment minimum payable for each episode of the series produced beyond the pilot. Continue reading
The television landscape is changing dramatically. New and major players have disrupted traditional models, as networks and studios explore different approaches and partnerships. Beginning with an overview of the biggest “new” player, the following links provide some noteworthy examples of how the streamers continue to expand, and what everyone else is doing to adapt to the 21st century television ecosystem.
Inside the Binge Factory
According to Vulture, Netflix now makes more television than any network in history, and with a plan to spend $8 billion on content this year, it’s not showing any signs of slowing down. Driven by a desire to scale and grow, Netflix is leveraging its impressive stable of talent and reams of user data to expand into new genres and countries. But considering Netflix’s recent earnings report, which revealed slower membership growth than forecasted, will it continue the pace of this expansion? Vulture’s profile of the streaming giant takes a deep look at the who, how, and why of Netflix’s ongoing success, providing a great framework through which to analyze the future of the company. Continue reading
The U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona in Lundin v. Discovery Communications ruled that a defamation suit brought by a reality television star against the network and producers of a reality show was not barred simply by virtue of an exculpatory “Assumption of Risk” provision containing a waiver of all claims. Significantly, the ruling stands for the proposition that there is no special exception for reality television or documentary programming which would bar intentional tort lawsuits. This decision could have potentially significant implications in the reality television sector, as many reality stars may now have recourse for the oft-cited “bad edit.”
The agreement at issue was entered into by Cody Lundin – an internationally recognized professional survival instructor, best-selling author, and survival and sustainability consultant for national and international news outlets – in connection with his appearance on Discovery Channel’s “Dual Survival.” Lundin served as the show’s on-camera host, wilderness survival expert, and consultant. The show features a pair of survival experts in predetermined scenarios set in challenging environments. For instance, Lundin and his co-hosts have been marooned on an island, lost in a jungle, and stranded in the desert, all with minimal survival gear. Continue reading
On Monday a California appeals court handed down a decision in the closely watched case of de Havilland v. FX Networks, LLC et al., triggering a collective sigh of relief from studios, networks, and other content producers. The court’s decision reaffirms two widely recognized principles: (1) that the First Amendment’s protection of creative works is not limited by the mere fact that a work generates income, and (2) that an individual cannot censor the way in which she is depicted in a creative work merely because she does not like that depiction.
These principles, as applied to the entertainment industry, have been challenged in recent years with a wave of cases such as de Havilland. For instance, a case in New York, Porco v. Lifetime Entertainment Services, LLC, was allowed to proceed after an appellate court held that the newsworthiness exception to New York’s statutory right of publicity did not apply to a docudrama that substantially fictionalized the life story of a real person. The court stated that such a work was “mainly a product of the imagination” and thus “nothing more than [an] attempt to trade on the persona of the plaintiff.” Continue reading
The last few months have seen a number of high-profile deals in episodic programming, spurred in part by the entry of a number of significant new players in the marketplace. Here are a few particularly noteworthy entries:
Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon Morning Show Drama Lands at Apple With Two-Season Order
Apple is anticipated to become a major purchaser of entertainment content, and it made a splash with its first show announcement – a two-season order for a show starring and executive produced by Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, set inside the cutthroat world of morning television.
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s ‘Kingkiller Chronicle’ Series Set At Showtime
Everyone is looking for the next “Game of Thrones and “The Kingkiller Chronicles,” in development at Showtime and based on Patrick Rothfuss’s acclaimed fantasy series, may be it. “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda is attached to executive produce, and will contribute music to the series – a key development as music is an important component of Rothfuss’s books. Continue reading
Inside Counsel’s Senior Editor & Community Manager, Rich Steeves, published a five-part series titled “Where Former Entertainment GCs Go Next” last week, which was prominently featured on the Inside Counsel website.
The series, which discussed the so called “third act” for successful general counsel, provided a comprehensive profile of CDAS and the services the firm provides to clients, while also discussing the appeal the firm has had for former GCs in their transition to a new environment.
CDAS Partners Aileen Atkins, Frederick Bimbler, Douglas Jacobs, Eleanor Lackman, Marc Simon and Stephen Sheppard were interviewed for the series. You can find a link to each part of the series below.
PART 1: http://www.insidecounsel.com/2015/04/27/third-act-where-former-entertainment-gcs-go-next-p
PART 2: http://www.insidecounsel.com/2015/04/28/third-act-where-former-entertainment-gcs-go-next-p
PART 3: http://www.insidecounsel.com/2015/04/29/third-act-where-former-entertainment-gcs-go-next-p
PART 4: http://www.insidecounsel.com/2015/04/30/third-act-where-former-entertainment-gcs-go-next-p
PART 5: http://www.insidecounsel.com/2015/05/01/third-act-where-former-entertainment-gcs-go-next-p
This is part two of this blog series. Part one can be found here.
This is one of the threshold questions for producers seeking to adapt formats – how much control, if any, will the originator of the format have over the adaptation? On one hand, the format originator has a creative and financial attachment to the original show; it is in its best interest that the format is treated sensitively, packaged appropriately and produced at a budget and quality level that will enable it to succeed – because if the adaptation fails, the “brand value” of the format could be tainted for the long-term. On the other hand, the adapting producer and its local production partners are probably best positioned to understand the tastes and culture of the target market and navigate any regulatory issues. Continue reading
The market for quality narrative television has heated up globally over the past few years. Fueled by the emergence of new digital platforms and business models, the reliance of multiplexes on blockbuster genre films, and the growth of “binge viewing” of TV content, audiences have become increasingly hungry for high quality, serialized content that they can consume across devices. Accordingly, an increasing number of distributors – broadcast and online alike – have sought to follow the lead of AMC (Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead) and Netflix (House of Cards, Orange is The New Black, Marco Polo) by using high quality scripted shows to build and distinguish their brands. Continue reading
CDAS Attorney Doug Jacobs will be speaking at this year’s “CFX Live”, on March 25th, at 2:50. CFX Live is a conference hosted by CableFax with a central focus on the Television industry. Doug will be focusing his discussion on the topic of “over the top” (“OTT”) content distribution, and the relevant business and legal issues that must be addressed both short and long term. To learn more about this event, be sure to click here.
Following today’s earlier announcement that Former General Counsel of A&E, Doug Jacobs, was joining the firm as a Partner, Mr. Jacobs had an opportunity to speak with Jon Lafayette, Business Editor at Broadcasting & Cable, about the transition. Mr. Jacobs touched upon the current state of the Television Business, as well as the future of the business as it relates to new technology and developments.
You can find the full article here.