Pay me, dammit

There’s an interview on YouTube with Harlan Ellison that really struck a chord with me. In it, he rants about how Warner Bros. wanted to use an interview with him on a DVD but didn’t want to pay him for it. He talks about how outrageous it is that this is now accepted practice, and how amateurs seeking a big break are willing to whore themselves out for nothing.

I’ll admit to being somewhat of a hypocrite on this issue. On one hand, I want to be paid for my work (because I need to eat). On the other, most of that work is based on interviews I do with people, and I don’t pay any of them for their time or thoughts.


4 thoughts on “Pay me, dammit

  1. CT Moore

    This is shameless panhandling. The only one being paid for the interview should be whoever conducted it or owns the rights to it. Why was he even consulted? What would happen to the profession of journalism if subjects received royalties?

    Wonder what he thinks of this interview being posted to YouTube for free…

  2. Jim Royal

    There is a world of difference between a journalist interviewing a politician or a man on the street about a current issue and interviewing a performer for promotional purposes. The former has an element of civic responsibility (ideally) and the latter is making a sales tool.

  3. blork

    I think it’s important to consider the difference between an interview that’s put on a DVD for entertainment, and an interview that’s conducted as part of a news story.

    That said, I can understand this guy’s frustration, but I think in this case maybe he’s going a bit too far. If he’s already been paid for working on the project, and he agrees to be interviewed about it, I don’t see what the big deal is about agreeing to let it be used on the DVD. In the video, he seems to be getting “interview” and “essay” mixed up, as if this is a pre-canned rant that he uses when people want to use his writing for free. Newsflash: interviews are not writing.

    Even if it’s for Warner Brothers ($$$), TV and movie making is a very competitive business. You’d think the people involved in such projects would be happy to contribute to it’s success.

  4. Jim Royal

    Ed, Harlan Ellison — in addition to being a novelist and screen writer — is also a member of the Screen Actor Guild. They also have strict rules about public performance, and they don’t let their members do it for free.

    Some promotional activity is built into the performer’s contract — for example, they are required phone interviews while the show is in production. But this is ten to twelve years after production has shut down.

    Also consider that the current writers strike is about residuals — the right to be paid when someone makes a buck off your work.

    Imagine that a company called you up one day and said that they’d like to use excerpts from Blork Blog in their current marketing campaign, that they expected to make a mint off their new product, and they wouldn’t pay you for the use of your work. Would you be happy with that?


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