The Future. As of yesterday, the writers strike is finally over. In its contract negotiation with the AMPTP, the WGA was able to make gains for every sector of its membership while also protecting the profession’s future — a spectacular show of worker solidarity rippling across industries. While the road to getting the deal was as dramatic as any HBO drama, the result may mean a lot more writers will be able to earn a living writing on HBO dramas.
Here are some of the key wins the WGA achieved after 148 days on strike.
- AI. The WGA was able to codify that a professional writer must be human, and material generated by AI can’t be considered “literary, source, or assigned material.” Meanwhile, studios gained protections around their ultimate ownership of a script’s copyright.
- Streaming transparency. The WGA will get a full breakdown of viewership numbers for original high-budget titles but can only present the data in an “aggregated form” to membership — so the black box is broken a little open but not completely.
- Streaming residuals. The WGA negotiated a viewership-based bonus on top of the typical residual (royalty payout) that rewards writers in success. It also got a major bump to the residual tied to global subscribers.
- Minimum TV staffing. Initially seen as a non-starter for studios, the WGA was able to ensure a minimum number of writers that must be hired in writers rooms. The only exception is for shows with a single writer (a rare occurrence).
- Screenwriter protections. In an effort to curb the rise of free work in feature film writing, writers are now required to be hired for “two steps” and get paid more of their fee while they’re working, not after.
The full list of gains shows every “existential” issue plaguing Hollywood writers was addressed — issues that developed over the last decade’s rush into streaming, according to WGA President Meredith Stiehm.
While the final deal still needs to be ratified by the membership (voting takes place from October 2nd to 9th), that’s seen as basically a sure thing. As a vote of confidence, writers are already permitted to return to work.
But, the town awaits for a deal to be made with SAG-AFTRA before Hollywood is truly back in force.