The Scott Shaw Blog Be Positive

Residuals

For those of you who may not know, Residuals are what an actor, a director, a screenwriter, or a composer gets paid every time a union film or TV production is shown. The film professionals get paid a standardized fee up front, then, when that production is rebroadcast, they get a certain percentage of that fee. Sometimes these checks only add up to a few pennies but it's the thought that counts.

Residuals were created in the 1960s by the then Screen Actors Guild to assure that the performers and the filmmakers were fairly compensated throughout the entire time a production is seen—wherever it is seen. From this, not only do the production companies and the producers make a fair wage but also so do all of the other people associated with the production.

Personally, I am an active member of the SAG/Aftra Union. Thus, I cannot act in non-union productions. Thank you to all of you indie producers out there for asking me to take part in your production but due to my union status I cannot.

The reason that the union is a great thing is that it makes sure everyone is paid fairly. Every time any segment of a union production is broadcast anywhere it is required that those people or that company broadcasting it pay for the usage of that production so that everyone is rightly compensated. Enter the internet and this has all changed.

Many people watch illegal downloads of films and TV shows all the time. Do they even care about what their watching that illegal download is doing to the financial stability of the cast and crewmembers? Probably not. Like the FBI states, “Internet Piracy is not a Victimless Crime.”

On sites like YouTube some people upload films that they do not own the rights to—reviewers take segments of films, in large or small qualities, and pay nothing for the film’s usage. Though they are making money via the number of viewers they have and the advertisements on YouTube, the actual film’s creators are receiving no payment. Is that fair that someone who had nothing to do with the creation of the film is making money but the cast and crewmembers are not? This is why residual payments were instigated in the first place.

This is where one of the big problems with SAG/Aftra, the Producers Guild (PGA), the Directors Guild (DGA), and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) arises. They do not police their own policies. In some cases, some of the large production companies will immediately go after anyone who broadcasts all or part of one of their productions. And, if you look at the online reviewers, most of them stay away from these films because they do not want to receive copyright takedown noticed because after they receive three (at least on YouTube) their account is nullified. And yes, even the small producers can go after the people who take footage from their films, but it can become a headache so many do not.

The fact is, somewhere/someone came up with the concept of Fair Use. Many reviewers believe that this gives them the right to take footage from anyone’s film that they want. But, if you check the law, Fair Use was designed for learning institutions and established news agencies, not for someone to make money off of a film by putting up a review. And, like I have stated in many places, the moment you make one penny off of someone else’s production, Fair Use goes out the window and copyright infringement comes into play. If you doubt this fact ask any attorney who specializes in copyright law.

The copyright law is the copyright law but what does any of that mean if no one is willing to follow it? Moreover, there is a world full of people happy to waste their time on sites like YouTube doing nothing but watching whatever nonsense is being broadcast.

In a perfect world, people would care about other people. And, this is the point of this piece. Caring… Caring enough to care. The question you always must ask yourself is how is what you are doing affecting the life of that someone else? How is what you are doing creating havoc in the life of someone you have focused your attention upon? For the reviewers, if you care enough to take the time to view a film and then review it, shouldn’t you also care about the people who created that film? Isn’t that only right? For the viewers, do you ever contemplate how what you are doing, as seemingly innocent as it may be, will affect the life of someone else? Or, do you just do what you do and never think about the bigger picture? If that is the case, I would really suggest that you take a long hard look at your life. Because right is always right and wrong is always wrong.

In closing, the rules, the residuals, and taking the time to care were all set up in order to make the all and the everything of life better. Are you making life better? If you are hurting anyone in the process of what you are doing, you are not making it better. Is that right?

Always Help. Always think. Always care. Think about the other person—think about how what you are doing will affect that other person. Think about someone else beside yourself. Do what you do with a conscious caring purpose and all of life becomes better. And, don't rob the livelihood of someone via your own selfish needs.