The Dramatists Guild of America has co-signed the following Authors Guild letter to the United States Congress, seeking legislative amendments to labor and antitrust laws that would enable freelance professional creators (including playwrights, composers, lyricists, and librettists) to negotiate collectively.
Dear Majority Leader Schumer, Minority Leader McConnell, Speaker McCarthy, and Minority Leader Jeffries:
We, the undersigned, are professional freelance creators—authors, journalists, translators, musicians and music workers, songwriters, composers, lyricists, playwrights and dramatists, screenwriters, visual artists, photographers, videographers, graphic artists, illustrators, and designers. Our creative endeavors power the entertainment, publishing, and media industries of America. Together, we seek the right to negotiate and act collectively, and ask you to pass legislation that will allow us to work together and share information in order to ensure we are fairly paid.
With the exception of an extraordinarily small group of superstars, freelance professional creators like us are middle class individuals and we are being exploited by big business in today’s economy. The creative industries – including publishing, film, theatre, television, music, software, gaming, newspapers, and magazines – combined – generate $1.5 trillion in annual value to the U.S. GDP. That is equivalent to 7.41% of the entire U.S. economy. Yet, we freelancers, who are responsible for most of the creative works on which these industries rely, receive insufficient compensation for our work.
In today’s economy, our lack of fair compensation is unsustainable. Despite investing in years of training and education, we are being paid less and less, while the giant media and entertainment conglomerates we work for report ever-growing profits. This is because virtually every sector of the creative economy is subject to monopsony conditions where one or a few firms control the markets for our work. We are customarily presented with one-sided contracts that are non- negotiable or negotiable only around the edges, while increasingly we are forced to hand over more rights for the same or less money. In some cases, corporations demand we hand over our copyrights, which is the very essence of our work and the basis of our economic livelihood. We are outgunned and unable to negotiate fairer terms, hindering most of us from making sufficient earnings from our work. This not only endangers our personal livelihoods, but the future of our creative professions and the enormous contribution they make to the American economy and culture....