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back to article Hollywood writers abandon Hollywood for web

Unhappy with the way they've been treated by Hollywood's old school film and television producers, more than a few big name American movie and TV writers are bootstrapping startups in an effort to distribute their own material. And naturally, they plan on distributing via the web. As American TV addicts know all too well, the …

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Happy

Unions

The WGA, UAW and all the other unions are a joke.

It always amazes me that the 'land of the free' is so beholden to the concept of the unions and union workers, given what a 'socialist' concept it is and how they always hated the ideas of communism & socialism so much.

Not that the unions are particularly socialist, more like big corporations themselves.

I still can't really understand how the unions are allowed to survive, in particular the concept that if you're not a member you shouldn't be able to do particular jobs, or that you aren't such a good worker just because you don't pay union dues.

Though at the current rate they'll self-destruct; it's not so tempting being in the union when it results in being unemployed.

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Can't we find them...

A job over here (UK) doing the scripts for that load of shite Eastenders? Surely to christ they can come up with some humo(u)r to inject into this load of crap.

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Silver badge
Unhappy

Re: Unions

While you are slagging off the unions, who were founded by the workers to represent workers' interests in industry, please to bear in mind that without them, you would now be working 120 hours a week for a quid a week, in unsafe and dangerous working conditions, for employers who don't give a toss about your well-being or safety - only their profits. Unless, of course, you are a shareholding parasite yourself who would like to profit from imposing such conditions on the workers who provide your profits?

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Anonymous Coward

More on unions...

While it is true that at the start of the union movement (early part of 20th century, maybe a bit before) workers rights were trampled upon, nowdays, most of the "work rules" are codifed into laws of the land. We now have mandated overtime, mandated (but inflationary) minimum wage, and all sorts of rules (there was a joke about the cowboy according to OSHA that pre-dated the web, a wonderful cartoon). Now all we do is sit at our computer workstations and complain about carpal tunnel. Then we get a lawyer to say it is someone else's fault. Yes, many employers might have gone to the "dark side" in employee relations, but as was said originally, unions are obsolete.

As said: "How do I get a SAG card?" "get an acting job", "How do I get an acting job?" "get a SAG card". The problem is that in some places this is the norm!

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here here!

I agree Steve Roper, Those unthinking and naive pure and pure capitalists who don't give a toss about workers rights or even worse; trust corporations or the governments to protect workers rights.

It's only a pity we don't have a programmers and sys-admins union. Then at least we could have had a strike each time the uk government fucks up an IT project.

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Black Helicopters

Re: Onions

Steve,

It is also the unions who drove most of US manufacturing overseas and virtually imploded the US auto industry, albeit with not exactly an insubstantial amount of assistance from myopic, inertia driven and risk averse corporate leadership.

At any rate, the unions are certainly past their prime when their mention brings images of the mafioso to mind and the local burger joint is paying 175% minimum wage for someone to ask if I "want fries with that" in so many places around the country. Oh, before you go saying the mafia comment is out of line, ask yourself who wrote all those movies and dramas that made the connection?

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Linux

Alternatives

Whilst I've never liked unionists per se, I admit unions have their uses and probably always will. Now, what I really wanted to say was this ...

Why don't we (being the more enlightened folk in society) use this, in concert with other movements spontaneously arising (FOSS, 'free' music), to act as a catalyst for a another initiative: a 'free' search engine alternative and supporting infrastructure. Basically, we'd be changing the distribution model AND the infrastructure.

Communities of programmers have already demonstrated that they can build better OS's than multi-billion dollar companies. And communities of writers, musicians and artists are showing their desire and intent to escape the clutches of established, stifling commercial arrangements. So let's get together to build the independent infrastructure (e.g. starting with "home folders" and torrent seeders, distributed data repositories, and eventually including fixed data centres) to support an independent, free search engine alternative and distribution of independent media.

There would still be revenue earned, and I'll leave any economic modelling to people with more experience in such matters, but distribution of income would completely bypass the corporate 'vampires' who currently have such a strangehold. The basic idea is that a modest proportion of earnings from content sales would support the infrastructure necessary to distribute it, and distribution would be supported by the free search engine alternative that would run on the independent infrastructure. And the free search engine would act as an attractor to potential customers. In time, such a model, I hope, would attract increasing numbers of musicians, writers, artists and other content creators.

Such a project would start small, as always, but once going would gain momentum. (Google started in one room and look how far they've come in a decade). First, though, some seed money wouldn't go astray .... perhaps some cashed up megastars might wish to contribute to a worthy cause.

Of course, if some rich, benevolent folk want to get together and by Yahoo! to kick start the whole thing, then that would be just fine.

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Anonymous Coward

Respect to the WGA

I think it is a wise move, we should be getting more experimental, thought provoking entertainment soon. If this happens this is a great day for culture.

All that will happen is the big studios will either become consumers or go out of business.

Their power is the distribution channels and back catalogue, but you can burn the back catalogue for all I care, I want it new and fresh. And ok, fine it is perhaps easier to watch TV on the computer using a DVB dongle, but it just the same old tripe.

Currently I am watching One Tree Hill, might be a new episode but who the hell knows they all just merge into one really. We need to let the writers free, may get something a bit more punchy.

The internet is the perfect distribution medium and this move will further spear head the expansion of bandwidth for us all. And what about interactive TV, perhaps we could have seamless multiple endings, depending upon one's viewpoint. Currently TV is just mass propaganda, it is hilarious really, full of trite moral cliches, it is just an affront to the betterment of knowledge. I have it reduced to background noise in 480 x 350 window I can mute and cover with ease.

I swear the studio execs just have a dartboard, with standard formulaic bull pinned all over. I don't blame the writers, I blame the studios, there are some exceptionally talented writers who are just being boxed in.

Power to the writers, write on!

PS. They can use that slogan, if anyone of them reads this.

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Paris Hilton

@ac

@ac if you wish to read up about pre unionised sweatshop conditions and evil work practices I would suggest you read numerous good reference books on the matter in question and then come back and repeat your statements with the full knowledge of what has gone before and then tell all if you can ?

Two books worth reading are "The Radium Girls" about a corporation knowing about the evils of radiation yet imposing very fatal working conditions and using government connections to weasel out of all responsibilities from the top down !

The other one is a book by Eric Schlosser called "Fast Food Nation" in this tome he touches on a very large scandal dating back to the years Teddy Roosevelt was President that effectively caused the creation of "The Meat Inspection Act 1906" and gives a number of very good references to read about the subject at which you tend to sneer at and take a supercilious stand of one that is truly ignorant of both cause and effect !

Sadly as always those who ignore that which history teaches and choose to fly with ignorance as the pilot unfortunately are forever doomed to suffer endless repeats until they get it right !

Welcome to cloud cuckoo land friend ! or as Nelson Muntz would say Ha! Ha!

Paris is chosen for she too appears have more brains then some that I know of here !

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Pirate

RE: Unions

Judging by the lack of responses, I must say this troll attempt will not be contending in the annual awards

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Bronze badge

@ Steve Roper

The OP sounds like he is doing all right. (Obviously not a man of principle.) Either that or he is writing for Reader's Digest or some other political rag.

That's assuming he is a writer. Not just a mouth. I wonder if he is a writer, does he write novels or some such rather than scripts? If so does he have an agent?

If so can he say why he needs a personal assistant to do what less well cared for writers need to unite to obtain?

Everyone needs some sort of representative who knows the ropes when it comes to negotiations. "Those that can, do" so to speak. Those that can't, get a union/manager. It's that simple. Not everybody has negotiation skills. It doesn't come naturally to some people.

*****

But what is this about:

"One such venture is Virtual Artists, a company that bills itself as a marriage of "A-list writers from Hollywood" and "A-list writers of free/open source software.""

The link goes to a site you have to supply an e-mail to. But we don't need to worry as they will respect it. Spam it perhaps but at least do so with respect?

As it happens I wish them well but if they are backed with web techies they aught to know that exclusivity has a price online. Or don't the writers know the first 3 things about their business are: Publicity, publicity, publicity.

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Flame

Re: More on unions...

Mate, and how do you think those laws of the land happened, if not for workers fighting for them? And how long do you think they'd survive, if only the rich guys had their lobbies?

The fact is, the delusions of either paternalist autocracy of the employer or the "market solves it all" theories... well, we already know what those produced.

We're not just talking the whole 19'th century and early 20'th being a story of increasing mandatory work hours, and ever lower wages. Yeah, that's what old-school neo-liberalism and market-solves-it-all theories produced.

We're also talking employers who _shot_ striking workers. As in, literally, machinegunned them down. Wrap your mind against that, because it's literally mass murder any way you want to slice it. People have been convicted and executed for doing the same thing in WW2 against partisans, but how quick America forgets when it's rich guys against their employees...

America's darling, Henry Ford, not only installed machineguns at his factories, but also stockpiled mustard gas, to intimidate the workers into submission. You know what mustard gas is? A horrible vesiculant which was used in WW1 chemical warfare. Even if you don't die, you're looking at weeks of excruciating pain if you've been exposed to that, scarring, and often blindness and/or permanent lung damage. With the fun part being that its only effect is breaking down DNA. So it's also a carcinogen and has the fun side effect of being an immunosuppressor too.

And for the other AC:

The images of mafiosos are BS propagated by their opponents. Yeah, in the 30's they did seek help from the mafia, because when you're up against machineguns and lethal gas, you want _some_ defense. But: ever heard of a union being linked to the mafia in the last 50 years? 'Cause I haven't. Wake me up when you actually have any proof of such accusations.

As for the "they drove the industry overseas" part, ever heard of the Phillips Curve? America (and everyone else) has exactly the unemployment it wants, and it's kept there by the federal reserve. No jobs were lost. You just swapped some of the unprofitable manual labour jobs for (A) more management and marketing jobs, which are better paid, and (B) services jobs, i.e., better quality of life for everyone.

And you know what would have been the only thing that would have kept the industry at home? Local wages being lower than those in China. You know what kind of wages they have down there? Last I heard, the average wage there was in the range of 1000$ per year. Yeah, I didn't miss any zeroes: one thousand. Per year. That's how cheap you'd have to work to keep the corporations from moving those jobs abroad.

Yeah, blame the unions for keeping you from that. Heh.

Ah, but let me guess... You're not one of the guys who always wanted a factory job for a thousand a year. You're one of those who think you'd get more if someone else got less, right?

Well, I have bad news there too. Salaries are a relative thing, see. You only need to pay, say, and engineer X% higher than a manual worker, so there's an incentive to do that instead. If you cut everyone else's wages in half, yours would go down proportionally too. Just something to think about.

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Flame

Re: "Unions drove manufacture overseas"

This is a lie. Pure and simple.

What drove your work overseas, was employer profit hunt.

They were doing "ok" with manufacture done domestically, but then they decided that they could do even better (even subtracting the transport cost) by manufacturing their goods in countries that had no legal protection for the workers health, safety, or wroking environment. These countries regularly has much lower expected income, hence, both the factories themselves, and the payment to the workers is lower.

You see, those greedy bastards known as "corporate execs" care ONLY about one thing: Their bottom line. This bottom line is affected by how many, and to what price, units they can sell (more is better), minus how much factories (building and maintenance) cost, and worker salaries. (lower is better). Notice how "replacement workers" isn't in that equation. Only thing they care about if one of the manufacturing machines (which would be illegal in most of the western world, for safety reasons) "swallows" a worker, and promptly chews him to death, is that this slows down production. If a manufacturing plant can't meet it's daily quota, the workers are told to work overtime. Yes, the conditions are that bad.

So, the argument that "unions drove work overseas", is only valid, if you add it up like this:

Constant: Corporate greed.

Local working laws has been affected by worker unions to make it illegal to use manufacturing methods that kill workers.

Local working laws has been affected by worker unions to make it illegal to force workers to work hours that kill them off slowly.

Local working laws has been affected by worker unions to make it illegal to use dangerous chemicals unless the workers are properly corrected.

Notice all the local laws here.

Corporate execs greed calculates that "working within the local law is more expensive than manufacturing remotely, and importing". Thus the corporate execs simply avoid the laws, to make more money.

Only ways to stop this, is to simply boycott all goods manufactured in plants that does not meet a minimum working anvironment/safety/health-specification, AND to get laws that say "local business owners manufacturing abroad, MUST make sure the abroad manufacturing plant meets the same requirements as dictated by law in their local area. Failure to do so, will be punished by confiscation of all assets, and then prison". The threat they really fear here, is the confiscation part. Remember the "corporate greed" constant.

So no, unions didn't move your jobs overseas. Your very own corporate execs did that, to pay off more to the stock owners. Lies like the one you started to spread now, has been spread by those corporate greedy bastards ever since the unions was first formed. Are you a greedy bastard, or are you simply misinformed by the greedy bastards?

//Svein

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Ash
Joke

This doesn't explain...

... why I can't find any more episodes of The IT Crowd or Top Gear online.

What about British writers?!

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Unions vs Govt

Just because the current unions are (reputedly) inefficient, corrupt and counter-productive, doesn't mean that the very concept is outdated.

After all, just because the current US administration is the most corrupt, mendacious, cynical and self-serving in over a century, do you think that government itself is obsolete? (I know the Anarchists have believed this for generations, but I also suspect that the anti-union commenters here are not Anarchists.)

By the way, anybody who thinks that throwing the word "socialist" around automatically wins the argument, is naive and/or brainwashed. He's also almost certainly a Yank, because this attitude is much less prevalent in any country that doesn't have Christian fundamentalists at the helm.

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Bronze badge

@ Steve,

US went overseas because the US financed it. It took UK manufacturing with it once the ball got going. With the USA managing all the armies in the Orient outside China and Russia, what were the eastern countries going to spend money on?

As for Mafiosi running unions. The fact is that once a section of a community gets used to a certain lifestyle, it's nearly impossible to make them revert to suit market forces.

Look what happened after the full tilt production and high wages of coal miners in WW 1. As soon as production was cut back, the management expected the miners to take massive reductions in salaries.

And they wouldn't do it. So customers went abroad. It's as simple as that. When did the USA start seriously looking at small cars? Or high quality production?

Just like us in the UK: never.

It's only due to the fact that the USA spawned the oriental car markets that they still have an auto industry. And it's only because the Japanese have an interest in Europe, that Britain has one.

It has almost nothing to do with unions. (Unless you count the fact that management couldn't force individuals to take pay cuts.) Wait and see what happens in the wonderful world wide web when market forces do more than shift help desks overseas.

I can't see Intel or other huge code writing companies relying on western resource pools. Google doesn't, unless you count the free software they use. Complex, is it knot?

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Silver badge
Alien

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Regards,

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Happy

Awards

I find it hard to suppress a smile every time we hear about the cancellation of an award ceremony due to the lack of writers. Can't Americans put two words together without an autocue? Even the jokes might improve, if they were spontaneous...

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Linux

Unions and the law

Without unions, many rights that have become rights via the law, and many laws themselves re minimum wage, working conditions, 48 hour working week etc would not have come to pass.

For over a century unions have (as a group of workers concerned about their workplace and even their country) pushed for better working conditions, a decent living wage (they are still doing so), reasonable working hours so that we can actually have lives away from work (they are still doing so), campaigning against companies leaving the UK to go to cheaper countries (they are still campaigning).

The only reason why unions would be thought of as obsolete is if you are happy with what you have, and happy that your employer will not at any time make you involuntarily redundant or bully you at work or treat you any other way you don't want to be treated.

As for the writers themselves - the only solution is indeed to get out from under the old giants and either set up themselves or set up better contracts with other behemoths.

If they set up by themselves and not with anybody who would allow them to be bought, then they can resist being bought.

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Corporatism and socialism

I don't understand why socialism is deemed so bad yet corporatism so good. In a corporation, everyone works for the good of the whole.

Sounds pretty much like socialism to me.

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xjy
Thumb Up

Writers, unions, outsourcing

The reason American unions are so fucked up is that American workers can be as radically militant as anyone else, so the bosses and their political and media thugs have devoted quite incredible resources and ingenuity to a non-stop and ongoing war against them and those representing their interests. Class war. In the screwed up tug-of-war known as BOURGEOIS democracy, the workers/unions are the invisible dark matter that determines how the thing moves. Invisible to the public, except as bogey men, the workers and their resistance to impoverishment and dehumanization are what keeps the "advanced" countries semi-"civilized".

Writers and journalists are at the interface of analysing, presenting and representing our life and culture. Poor bastards. They hack away squandering any gifts they might have to gorify their masters. And if work is short, they too stand hopefully in line, ready to craft lies for a crust of bread.

As for foreign workers "stealing our jobs", that's a hoot. The world market is international and global in essence, but not in form. The form is national and parochial. If "our" workers weren't obstructed by this stupid decaying nationalism and its travel and communication restrictions, they'd be working with "their" workers to sort things out. There are no "foreign" workers, just workers living under foreign bosses and hogtied by alien red tape. Workers with foreign bosses don't want to lower "our" wages and conditions, they want to copy and then leapfrog them!!

The capitalist's world is dog eat dog, the worker's world is a collective fry-up.

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Anonymous Coward

Unions

Not sure how it works in the US exactly but I remember a program about Kew Gardens here in the UK some years back.

It was a reality type program where they followed the different worker types round for a few months and then showed the good bits.

Anyway, at one point it was time for the annual pay negotiations between the union and management. This went pretty well for all but one of the different groups. The union reckoned this group were being paid well below what they should and management had the problem of (1) finding any extra money and (2) impact on other groups if one lot got a higher percentage increase.

Anyway, just before one negotiation it shows the union guy stating "We are going to hold out for 10k for these people, that is what they are worth and that is what we will fight for".

Cut to the bosses: "This group want 10k, and it would be a very long stretch to pay that, we might well have trouble justifying that amount to the board".

In goes the union guy, they exchange pleasantries and the boss says "I have thought about your request and I have agreed to offer 10k"

Quick as a flash the union guy comes back with "I want 12"

At which point it all fell through and no-one got what they wanted...

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@Mark

By Gum! You're on to something there!

Socialism: In theory, everyone works together for the good of the whole. In practice, most of the "good" is reserved for those on top.

Corporatism: Exactly the bloody same!

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Silver badge

Re: A bit of everything

OK, I'll take these bits one at a time.

Unions: Although I admit they have done a lot for workers rights etc, at the company I am currently working for a militant union is threatening the company, which threatens my job. Yes, they are peeved that the company is abolishing the final salary pension scheme, but if keeping that would cause the co to close and them all to loose their jobs, which would they prefer? Unions need to be run propperly, with a rounded view of the whole situation. I wont say they dont have a place in todays western society, just that they have a different place.

The article: Basicaly GO FOR IT @ the Open Source attitude. I just hope they dont get gobbled up by Google or the like. It is just what we need.

Open search engine: Sounds like a fantastic idea! A peer-to-peer search engine thingy, where we can avoid google, would be great. Build up stats, privacy is kept as you only share data you want to, noone can just BUY an entry at the top of the list... I'm gonna have a look into that. BRING DOWN ALL THE BIG BOYS AND BUILD A BETTER COMMUNITY-DRIVEN SOCIETY FOR US ALL... well, maybe just bring the web back to the free-to-do-what-you-want philosophy.

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More union talk....

The organised labour movement did a great job and I wouldn't want to work in a world where these fights hadn't been fought and won.

One thing I want to pick up on is that the "Radium Girls" did not have a Union and that the legal case which they won against their employer was not supported by a Union. The National Consumer League (http://www.nclnet.org/about/history.htm) and a physiologist called Cecil Drinker were instrumental in first investigating the issue. However the NCL is not a Union but a campaigning organisation which was initially set up to raise consumer awareness of worker's rights.

However if you look at the German coal industry for example where €2.5 billion per year in subsidies is used to keep 80000 people connected to the coal industry employed. Well, if you just count the 35000 miners who's companies receive these subsidies that is over €70000 per employee. All this was maintained by Union pressure on the government.

I generally dislike Unions these days as they tend to be tied to certain industries and end up fighting for more subsidies for that particular industry and for jobs not to be lost on their particular patch. They rarely look at the big picture of what would benefit workers as a whole. Heck, I hate short sighted, petty, rules lawyering, bureaucrats of any kind and unfortunately Unions seem to breed them.

If the contract on offer is unacceptable to me I will not sign it and look for work somewhere else. If the working conditions are untenable I will resign. If I sign a contract I will hold up my end of the deal. I keep an eye on how the industry I'm in is doing and if it looks as if it will be sinking I'll look out for something else my skills can be useful for.

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oh, just to add

I want people in workplaces to be aware of what is going on, to talk to each other, to protest to management if they see something unacceptable going on. As employees I believe we have a collective responsibility to keep our companies honest.

I know many people would say that the above is what Unions are there for. I agree, that is what they SHOULD be there for. However most of the Unions and Union reps I've seen were not helpful and tended to escalate confrontations with the company. If there was a small problem they would not try and solve it they would turn it into a weapon to score "political" points with. They often fight more for the interest of the Union rather than the employee.

Add to that that often you do not have a choice about which union you can join...

In a way it is a bit like with politicians and political parties.

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Stop

RE: Corporatism and socialism

"I don't understand why socialism is deemed so bad yet corporatism so good. In a corporation, everyone works for the good of the whole."

Generally though for a corporation the only thing which matters is the bottom line therefore ALL other factors are un-important. It doesnt matter what happens to those working for the company / the enviroment etc. as long as money is made. People are working to make the company more money so only for the good of the company. If they fired after 10 years of service with no pension because they've become injured at work the corporation will not help them live.

Corporate responsibilty is nothing but a buzz word to encourage people to spend more money with that company because 'These guys DO care'.

'The Corporation' is a very interesting film in which the Canadian filmmakers discuss the fact that a Corporation often has the rights of a human being. They then look at the fact that if a Corporation was a human being it would in fact be a psychopath.

Not that in practice socialism is any better, generally because they are run by facists instead of someone really working for the common good, but if it was done right then the 'greater good' of the whole of society would be the goal instead of thegrater good of the amount of money lining the shareholders & fat cats pockets.

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Making money on the internet

Back to the article...

I was particularly taken with the line that Big Businesses "don't know how to make money on the internet". When anyone can show me a system for online distribution of music or video that makes money, please let me know. YouTube is the best recognised online video distributor in the world, and it's never made a profit. Napster also has massive brand recognition, but it's only just about hanging in there, it's had to rework its business model twice to try and make it work, and almost all its competitors have jacked it in as unprofitable. Both these are classic startups run by people who supposedly knew how the internet worked, and which were going to revolutionise the world. The only online music distributor making serious money is iTunes, and that's only because they've got a hardware tie-in. And they're run by Apple, who are by definition Big Business.

The problem is that FOSS is without exception developed by four groups of people:

1) people doing it in their spare time outside of work (paid by a "normal" company);

2) people doing it as part of academic work;

2) people doing it full-time by choice, because they have enough money that they don't need to work;

4) people working for a company which makes its money from other sources.

In other words, there isn't anyone in the FOSS community with any experience of product distribution for profit. This is by design for FOSS, because FOSS licenses prohibit distribution for profit, so all companies based around FOSS make their money off support contracts for large businesses. For FOSS this is a valid business model, but it simply isn't going to work for music and video.

In other words, this is a complete dead end. I predict (and I'd be prepared to bet money on it) that anyone relying on FOSS licensing techniques for making money with music and video will, inevitably and without exception, be bankrupt in a very short space of time.

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Anonymous Coward

@Dr Mouse

"Unions: Although I admit they have done a lot for workers rights etc, at the company I am currently working for a militant union is threatening the company, which threatens my job. Yes, they are peeved that the company is abolishing the final salary pension scheme, but if keeping that would cause the co to close and them all to loose their jobs, which would they prefer?"

You've fallen for it hook line and sinker, haven't you? In a couple of years time, when your job has to go, "if keeping that would cause the co to close and them all to loose their jobs", you'll be queuing willingly for your P45 presumably.

Or in x years time when an insurance company has had your "defined contributions", taken 10% in management charges and lost the rest due to "poor conditions in the stock market", you'll be very happy with no pension.

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Re: Unions

The problem I have with WGA and other big American unions is they have somehow become monopolies. Unions are a good idea, they allow groups of people to band together and push for better conditions and better pay. What seems absolutely crazy and appears to be against all of America's principles is they have unions such as the WGA which are so powerful that if you aren't a member then you can't get any work. Why does this exist in the land of capitalism? It is the same as the Mafia controlling an industry (though perhaps less bloody)

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@Graham Bartlett

RMS?

He made money from selling emacs. It was under the GPL but he still made money.

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Silver badge
Alien

The natives are revolting ...and emoting?

"The images of mafiosos are BS propagated by their opponents. Yeah, in the 30's they did seek help from the mafia, because when you're up against machineguns and lethal gas, you want _some_ defense." ....By Hans Mustermann Posted Tuesday 5th February 2008 09:01 GMT

And where are the Good Guys today, when they are needed, Hans?

"What drove your work overseas, was employer profit hunt." ... By Svein Skogen Posted Tuesday 5th February 2008 09:04 GMT ..... and dismissing W. Edwards Deming [an earlier SOX?] was not clever.

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Flame

Big Business(TM)

"The only online music distributor making serious money is iTunes, and that's only because they've got a hardware tie-in. And they're run by Apple, who are by definition Big Business."

Apple isn't run by idiots. If your intention is to make some damned money from your content, then you'd better be prepared to think like a Big Business yourself. If there's one thing Big Business has proven to the world, it's that it knows an awful lot about how to extract money from punters.

*All* businesses started out as an idea. Businesspeople are people too. The reason we have so many issues with corporations today isn't the people running them -- if you're in charge of a corporation owned by shareholders, you _have_ to pander to those shareholders' whims. And damned few shareholders today have any expertise in the fields their chosen companies work in.

This is why new communication technology was always a mixed blessing: originally, you bought shares in a business because you believed in it and wanted to help set it up. The key attraction was the dividend, not the share's actual worth. Today, shares are merely a form of money, traded like currencies by people whose sole interest in your corporation is to keep pumping it up until it bursts -- and to blazes with any long-term strategy.

Offering shares in your company is like getting a loan from the worst loan shark in the world. A loan shark who will never, ever let you off the hook and demand that you keep paying him off forever. Worse still, he will also demand that you keep paying him more and more and also tell you how to do your job and run your company.

A proper loan has a defined end point, but once you've sold that share, you're going to be paying its owner -- and future owners -- _forever_, regardless of how much money you were paid for it. It's like an infinitely long mortgage. THIS is why the corporate world is in trouble right now: the public shareholding model is seriously broken.

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RE: Corporatism and socialism

Dave, I should have been more explicit, I guess.

The "whole" depends on what is involved.

Russia would not have expected to work for the benefit of the US, even though they are part of the whole (humanity). They were expected to work for the benefit of the whole country.

Similarly, the employees in a corporation are intended to work for the benefit of the whole (corporation) rather than the whole (of humanity). Therefore if a corporation can externalise costs by doing something bad, they will do it, because they pay less for the damage done and the fact that it costs more when you add up all the costs from everyone who has to pay is irrelevant. It's their fault for not being part of the corporation.

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Paris Hilton

You only need unions now in countries without employment law

The concept of a union is a heinous idea in modern countries like the UK (and presumabley the rest of the EU). The sole reason they exist now is for collective bargaining and to allow employees to set their own wages.

I don't belong to any professional body (although frankly, thats because the BCS is a shamble of a professional body), and can manage to ask my boss for a pay rise without threatening to strike or derail the companies business plan or affect the companies clients, where as militant unions, and I'm thinking of the tool Bob Crow and his RMT here (or equally, the CWU), routinely go on strike because they were offered 5% and want 6.5% - heres a hint: if you dont think you get paid enough as a train driver, or walking around pushing letters through doors, quit and get a higher skilled job. For an accurate representation of how most Londoners feel about unions, heres a little video (NSFW) I prepared earlier: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHn-g7T9f9A

Unions practise a kind of militant blackmail on employers, and there is absolutely no place for that in a country with a 38 hour working week, accurate minimum wages and social services. The minimum wage isn't great, and doesn't allow you to live in great comfort, but it is enough to live on easily enough.

Wonder what union Paris is in?

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unions are complicated...

so, the argument so far has been for or against unions. It's simply not as black and white as all that.

At the end of WW2 the diamond industry in South Africa was suffering and wages were cut. The unions went on strike without pay. A lot of the striking workers were men that had just returned from war, didn't have savings, and relied on the money. Striking meant NO PAY. They would have preferred to work for less money than no money at all. This wage cut was not protecting anyone, or saving a 'bottom line' as many of the diamond cutting factories closed their doors. They simply could not afford to pay what the unions were demanding. Many other 'forced to strike' workers had to leave their trade and do other jobs - often for even less money, because they needed to eat.

The WGA union strike is certainly not about better working conditions, as i'm quite sure that they are not slave laboured into working 80 hours a week with dangerous man eating machinery. It is purely about money. The thing is, when you are hired for a job, dont you decide your remuneration then? When I sat for my job interview I discussed wages with my possible employer and we came to an agreement. If we had not, I would have looked else where. I appreciate that some people are desperate and will take anything, but there is nothing to stop them looking elsewhere later on.

The big names in the writers strike are the ones least likely to suffer. It's all the other people in the related areas from transport to caterers that suffer in things like this, and do you think the union bosses are suffering?

Unions are good when they are fighting for true reform. They become just as evil as corporate bosses when fighting for greed, and often without the support of their members.

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Rob
Paris Hilton

I still prefer the Onions...

tis true.

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Unions can reduce costs for the company

Because you only have to negotiate pay deals with a few people on behalf of the union members, rather than waste time going individually.

Also management can keep things secret if they can with the help of the union rep.

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Anonymous Coward

o.o

man talk about irrelivence.

Writers have a pretty good bit to be a touch annoyed, actors, directors, producers, the studios and the channels make a huge amount of cash where as writers get a small amount of that. And where are the programs without the writers?

Why shouldn't the writers decide not to write - it's their choice - if it's so easy to write why hasn't there been a slew of new writers?

At least the writers are looking into a new way of doing things unlike most music "artists."

Hope they come up with something interesting

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@michael

The issue is that the WGA did sit down down with their employer and set out what they would be paid for and how much. However that was before their employers found new ways of making lots of money from their work. How much writers are paid is dependent on the medium in which their work is published or broadcast. Since these new medium were not mentioned in the earlier agreement the media companies feel no need to pay royalties on the revenue from them.

They are now refusing to include payments related to those new media in any agreement with the WGA and the WGA is refusing to accept any agreement which does not include payment for those new revenues. In effect, like you did, the WGA is taking a look at the deal on the table and walking away.

The above is from following the news and not a deep analysis or anything. If people know better or I've been inaccurate feel free to blind me with a blizzard of facts. :op

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@More on unions

>>early part of 20th century, maybe a bit before<<

In fact trade unions started quite a bit before that. The Trade Union Act legalised the formation of a trades union and that came into force in 1871.

The most famous case of a union was that of the Tolpuddle martyrs in 1834 - although after the court case in which they were all sentenced to transportation, there were massive public protests at which some 35 other trade unions were present.

I think there should be a "non-IT" anorak icon

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@Mark

Did he? How so, given that the GPL specifically disallows payment beyond cost for reproducing software? He could charge for the cost of materials (tape reels back then) and shipping, but that's it - and that's all he says he did. In other words, no profit source.

Stallman is the poster-child for (2), (3) and (4). At MIT he could do basically what he liked (4), while the FSF was getting going he supported himself with savings from MIT (3), and then he ended up making his living from lecturing (4 again).

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Joke

Socialism vs. Capitalism

As the old story goes:

"Under the capitalist system, you have Man expoliting Man, but under socialism, it exactly the opposite!"

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Corporations are not Socialist

One thing all of you posting about how Corporations = Socialist Government. Being part of a company in a free economy is a choice. If you feel oppressed by your boss or underpaid/under-appreciated/make-up-your-whine-of-choice, quit, go get another job, or even start your own business, become your own boss.

If you are stuck in a socialist regime of government, you have no choice. You do what they say you must, and that's the end of it. Your only option is to uproot yourself and try to find a free-er country/society that will take you in.

At present, your options are pretty limited in the latter as more of Western Europe moves further and further left. Eastern Europe knows better, but they don't have all the infrastructure in place yet from years of third world USSR status.

But it's ok. Keep comparing private companies to socialist government. It's obvious you know what you're talking about because all rich people are evil and only out to screw you.

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Silver badge
Alien

Mad Hatters Tea Parties ......... Big Business Board Meeting

"'The Corporation' is a very interesting film in which the Canadian filmmakers discuss the fact that a Corporation often has the rights of a human being. They then look at the fact that if a Corporation was a human being it would in fact be a psychopath." ....By Dave Posted Tuesday 5th February 2008 12:25 GMT

And therein lies the Answer? A CV PreRequisite for Corporation Control, Dave?

The In Sane Yin to Mindless Yang that Leads Onwards and Upwards..... Higher?

And to Ask the Question Implies it comes with a Rhetorical Answer.

And as for those stuck in the Cabinet? Well........You wouldn't Adam and Eve it.

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Linux

@Graham Bartlett

Yes indeeed he did.

Still does.

The ONLY restriction on how much you can sell someone under the GPL is how much you can charge for the source code delivered to a customer of the binary.

He sold the tapes with the binries (and the source, though that isn't needed) for a pretty penny.

If he'd sold just the binaries, he could use the exact same price (profitable) but if a customer then asked "where's the source code" he can't charge the same (profitable) rate for the source. He can cover his cost in supplying it.

Which was the reason why he put the source on the same tapes.

Your assertion is a common fud against GPL by misrepresenting what it says to force people to think "If I GPL my product, I can't profit". You CAN.

Someone else could undercut you, but then a putative customer would lose out on

a) contact with the person writing the code, so can't rely on any help

b) the writer can afford to make it a full time proposition, increasing the value of the code

And lets face it, if Windows XP source was GPL, would you buy it from

Fred's SourceShop

Microsoft

?

It may be that you've been misled and you haven't checked up yourself, in which case, you can verify it with the license text or by suitable googling and taking other people's recollections.

But the short of it is

He could

He did

It was profitable

'K

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Anonymous Coward

Unions no longer needed?

"While it is true that at the start of the union movement (early part of 20th century, maybe a bit before) workers rights were trampled upon, nowdays, most of the "work rules" are codifed into laws of the land. We now have mandated overtime, mandated (but inflationary) minimum wage,"

Here in BC a large supermarket chain has just begun negotiations demanding a 2 hour minimum work call, and this for a group of workers in which a significant number are paid the minimum wage, which here is a joke when compared to living cost. How can this happen with your vaunted "laws of the land'? The neo-con provincial gov't which controls labour law changed the minimum standards law to allow a 2 hour minimum.

Go tell those workers their union is unnecessary.

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Anonymous Coward

corporate = socialist?

ehhh

Although it's a concept that I have considered the corporate would have to possess complete control over all aspects of an economy. The only time you could really compare a corporation to a socialist state would be if the corporation had aquired the whole country. Then though the corporation is generally just a proxy to another larger more power country. East India Trading company is the only that springs to mind, but that wasn't socialist more of a hierachical aristocracy sort of thing.

Primary points of a socialist communist system is that you are assigned a task that is believed to fit your abilities. You will do that task forever unless you show either particular aptitude or ineptitude. The state shall provide everything that you require, housing, food, water, health care, security. All that is required is that you comply and perform your assigned role.

However saying that we currently exist in a "free trade" society is wrong. However that has little relation to who employs you. Our economies at an employer/employee level are free you can leave your current employer and join a new one with a little work.

And just to point out why we (the west) aren't free trade economies.

One can't set up a buisness in China buying locally made ipods at Chinese rates and then sell them to Europe. However one can set up a business in America, have their ipods made in China and then ship them around the world charging variable prices as and where one sees fit.

Modern Globalisation bares a striking resemblence to colonial mercantile economics. Though not exactly the same - it sure isn't Adam Smiths free trade.

At the moment money flows to centres of trade which are protected (via tariffs, protection of regional price fixing, and subsidies) by powerful governments (US/European nations/Japan depending) the governments take a slice of that, the rest is then dispenced amongst the corporate elite and then down to the rank and file.

It's a great many things, but it is neither free trade nor is it socialism.

It's only something I've been thinking about recently, and I don't look to judge it - I just don't think people should claim it's something it's not.

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Coat

re : amfM - Mad Hatters Tea Parties

Er, I know it's from amanfromMars, but I feel obliged to point out that it was actually the March Hare's tea party. The Mad Hatter and dormouse were simply his guests.

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Alert

Re: corporate = socialist?

Well, the corporation doesn't own you outside work hours (though they may tell you they own your ideas). However, they DO

Assess your potential to work to your ability (Job Interview)

Assess your potential to do more (Job Appraisal)

Assess your potential to move up the heirachy (Promotions Board)

Then own your desk, your chair, your computer, your phone and your conversations. They tell you what software you have they will tell you when it will change.

All you have to do is keep working and they will pay you.

Unless, of course, the bottom line is being adversely affected (NOTE: this wasn't so often the case with smaller companies and isn't 100% [99.999....%maybe] now, but it is the accepted mantra: "don't expect a job for life any more").

Sounds a LOT like your description of what socialism is.

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