Writers Guild U.K. President Calls For Changes to Streamer Payment Terms

The president of the Writers Guild of Great Britain (WGGB), Sandi Toksvig, is set to call for changes to the way in which streamers remunerate writers.

Toksvig will speak at the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in Liverpool, U.K. on Wednesday, where the WGGB will propose a motion that the Congress support its efforts to bargain for a return to residuals and an end to buy-outs.

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Toksvig will say companies such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney, Apple and podcast streamers such as Audible regularly require writers to sign buy-outs preventing any future residuals or remuneration and also prevents them from adapting their work in different mediums, whether as books, theatrical shows or audio content.

If the motion is passed, it could result in the issue getting attention from Britain’s politicians.

The Congress will see 48 unions take part and sets the agenda for the TUC to take forward before the U.K.’s main political parties hold their party conferences this Fall.

Earlier this year, Toksvig led a rally in London’s Leicester Square showing solidarity for their U.S. counterparts the WGA, who have been on strike since May.

Read the full text of WGGB’s proposed motion below:

Congress recognises the global success of subscription video on demand (SVOD) providers such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Apple TV+ and subscription audio on demand providers such as Audible. These companies have hundreds of millions of subscribers globally, generating tens of billions of pounds.

However, the writers who create the stories which appear on these platforms are not being adequately remunerated for their work.

SVOD providers regularly engage writers on ‘buy-out’ agreements requiring them to sign away all intellectual property and copyright to their work. Meaning they do not receive any additional remuneration, even if their shows become international hits, and they cannot use their work to create theatre shows, books or audio content based on their creations. This differs from the long-standing collectively bargained agreements the WGGB has in TV, film, audio and theatre, which all contain royalty payments.

Many writers rely on royalty payments to keep afloat when they are not working. The increased use of non-collectively bargained buy-out agreements risks writing becoming a profession for only those who can afford it. As a result, the writing profession, and stories that are told will become less diverse

Congress recognises the valuable contribution writers make to the UK economy and cultural and creative sector.

Congress agrees to support the WGGB’s collective bargaining efforts, campaign for fairer pay for writers working for streaming providers and end buy-out agreements.

Congress also notes the recent Writers Guild of America strike against streamers, studios and producers, and sends our solidarity to these workers.

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