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Guild Wars

HuffPost Boycott Crumbling

The National Writers Union has decided to end its involvement in the Huffington Post boycott that was launched after HuffPo was sold to AOL for $315 million last March–and still chose not to pay its bloggers. Instead, the union will throw its weight behind its own “Pay the Writers” campaign. Here’s what they want, via Romenesko.

* Freelance journalists working for for-profit, multi-million dollar online publications should get paid.
* If you cover the news for anybody, you should get paid.
* If you take on assignments, with an editor, you should get paid.
* Occasional contributions by writers, educators or activists who are promoting a book or a cause could be unpaid and that fact should be acknowledged at the end of the article.
* Frequent and regular contributors should be paid.

Fair enough. Although it might be tough to get much leverage for those demands without…you know…a boycott. But we’ll see.

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SAG Member Pleads Guilty to Leaking Feature Films

Screen Actors Guild member Wes DeSoto reached a plea agreement to a single criminal copyright-infringement charge after leaking Black Swan and other feature films on the Internet.

Wired.com broke the story earlier this week that DeSoto, who had a small cameo in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, violated the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005.  SAG provided the films to members through the iTunes store. DeSoto’s apartment was raided earlier this year by the FBI after authorities were able to narrow down their suspects through the digital watermarks in the movies.

According to court documents, the government is seeking three years probation and restitution. DeSoto is due back in federal court next month.

CBS Studios Web Writers/Producers Land Guild Contract

Good news on the creatives-not-getting-exploited front. After 15 months of negotiating, CBS Studios and The Writers Guild of America, West have agreed to a deal that will land web writers and producers in the television and radio divisions health benefits, increased minimums and wages, grievance procedures, paid vacations, holiday pay, and pension benefits.

The LA Times reports the contract will only benefit about 15 people. But still. That number will surely grow in the future as more content moves online.

Visual Arts Source Publisher Talks HuffPo Strike in the Guardian

While Visual Arts Source editor Bill Lasarow‘s call for a boycott of Huffington Post at the beginning of March may have been initially dismissed by Arianna Huffington, it has become a whole lot tougher to ignore now. Nearly a month later the boycott is still in effect, the 26,000 member Newspaper Guild has climbed aboard, and the strike is now generating international solidarity. Lasarow has taken his cause to the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper. His most recent piece for the paper discusses the recent revelation that AOL/HuffPo is figuring out a way to differentiate “bloggers” from “journalists” and pay them accordingly.

Says Lasarow:

This is a start, but not good enough – given that a large number of these “bloggers” are, in fact, professional journalists. If one part of the answer is to hire select individuals to an expanded paid staff, another part is to compensate many others who are effectively working freelance right now. There remains an equal need to distinguish between editorial content and press releases. And then, it is entirely possible that this is a response with no more purpose than to defang the Newspaper Guild, to negotiate without formally sitting down while preserving the plausible deniability that they have given in to any demands whatsoever.

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The Newspaper Guild Joins Visual Arts Source In Its Boycott of Huffinton Post

The Newspaper Guild, representing 26,000 media-workers across the country, will be joining Visual Arts Source publisher Bill Lasarow in his boycott of the Huffington Post. In a statement released last week declaring the boycott, the guild announced, “We feel it is unethical to expect trained and qualified professionals to contribute quality content for nothing. It is unethical to cannibalize the investment of other organizations that bear the cost of compensation and other overhead without payment for the usage of their content. It is extremely unethical to not merely blur but eradicate the distinction between the independent and informed voice of news and opinion and the voice of a shill.”

The guild is asking writers to stop contributing to HuffPo for free and for readers to avoid crossing the “electronic picket line” by visiting the site. Like Lasarow, the guild demands a pay schedule for all bloggers, as well as that “paid promotional material must no longer be posted alongside editorial content.”

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AFTRA and SAG Boards Approve Joint Negotiation

The AFTRA and SAG boards continue to place nice-nice with each other. Plans for joint negotiations between the two unions for primetime TV and theatrical contracts got the go-ahead yesterday.

Press release after the jump:

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AFTRA President Pleased with ACTRA Contract

aftra_logo_200x20022.gif Oh Canada…

Los Angeles, CA (June 29, 2009)–In a statement released today, Roberta Reardon, National President of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), praised the announcement by the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) regarding ratification by ACTRA members of a new three-year Independent Production Agreement covering performers working on Canadian film, television and new media productions:

“On behalf of the more than 70,000 members of AFTRA, I congratulate all of our brothers and sisters in ACTRA who have successfully ratified a new three- year Independent Production Agreement covering their work in Canadian film, television and new media. We’re pleased that ACTRA members were able to achieve yearly wage increases during a time of severe global economic crisis.”

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SAG Contract Approved…Phew

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Finally a resolve to SAG’s big dumb dramatic cliff-hanger. No actors strike. According to reports, the contract was ratified by a huge margin in a high turn-out.

From LAT:

The two-year contract was patterned after similar agreements negotiated last year with three other talent unions.

It includes an immediate pay increase of 3% and, for the first time, gives actors residual pay for shows that stream on websites such as Hulu that enable viewers to watch them free of charge.

SAG Cans The Negotiator, Doug Allen, SAG Asks For Less – Gets More…Theoretically, What’s Going on with the SAG/AFTRA Contract?

AFTRA’s Election Results

We have all the election results for AFTRA:

Election Results for Los Angeles Officers, Los Angeles and National Board Members, and Convention Delegates

AFTRA LA President Ron Morgan Reelected

LOS ANGELES, CA (June 3, 2009)—The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists announced today election results for the AFTRA Los Angeles
Local.

Feel free to scan for your friends’/enemies’ names after the break:

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Tough Town

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SAG fired its Chief Negotiator Doug Allen…twice.

That’s some good negotiatin’.

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