Work For Hire (POST #100, YAY!)

One of the principal tenets of today’s media congloms is that as much as possible, we hire creative folks under the banner of “work for hire.”

This means that whether or not you have the brilliant idea and talent, or We have the brilliant idea and want you to contribute your talent to make it work in the medium, either way, we own it completely. Forever.

You produced and directed episodes of “_________”? That’s great, you get $x,xxx per week while working, and once delivered, no matter how many more times the conglom/network/company sells it, all the rest of that money is simply ROI for the company which put you under the work for hire.

This is all well and good for the company, and the attorneys, but sometimes it really screws the person or persons ultimately responsible for whether something turns out good, or not good.

It’s kind of like how the record labels screw the recording artists.

And I can’t help but wonder if there’s not a new model kicking around somewhere. Notice that there are an awful lot of recording artists starting their own labels and publishing companies? That’s a no brainer.

Now, how do you pair that independent model, with an engaged media creating and media watching audience for other content like broadband/television episodes or series? The model has a lot more people invested in it than a few guys and girls in their garage recording a record.

As a matter of fact, even as costs have fallen dramatically for creating shows, they still generally cost more than a 12-pack of beer, some pizza, and someones Mac with a copy of GarageBand on it.

I’m convinced that there is a way to do this, and to not screw it up with a bunch of 18 page legal contracts for every participant in the community.

Make it simple, make it clear – save yourself lots of legal costs and move fast. Create a model that allows those involved in making something successful invested and compensated (even if just a little, it’s meaningful and fair) for creating that something.

The Wild West doesn’t have anything on the building of Rome (and there isn’t much left of the Wild West these days except parodies and ghost towns. There’s a whole lot left of Rome if you consider the amazing sociological marks it left on our world).