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Netflix to cover $42 million in dispute over screenwriter compensation

Netflix will need to fork out a hefty sum in a fight over screenwriter pay. As Deadline reports, the Writers Guild of America has won an arbitration ruling that may have Netflix pay 216 theatrical movie writers a supplementary $42 million in unpaid residuals. The WGA can be seeking another $13.5 million in interest for late payment.

The WGA accused Netflix of “self-dealing” that helped it skimp on writer pay. Residuals for theatrical releases are said to be paid on revenues earned in confirmed market, based on the guild, and licenses like Netflix’s (where it’s both producer and distributor) demand fees predicated on more conventional relationships a Sony movie licensed to Netflix, for instance. Netflix, however, reportedly negotiated handles the Directors Guild of America and Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) that allow it pay residuals alone movies for “considerably less” compared to the cost of the film.

The win was helped by a youthful victory on the Sandra Bullock movie Bird Box, the WGA claimed. An arbitrator discovered that Netflix significantly underpaid a screenwriter utilizing a formula like this from the newest dispute. The officiator told Netflix to cover the writer $1.2 million in residuals and interest.

We’ve asked Netflix for comment. The WGA wasn’t shy about its criticism, however. It characterized Netflix among the “worst violators” of the guild’s basic agreements for residuals, and saw the arbitration as a pushback against media companies attempting to “depress” pay through streaming services. You shouldn’t be surprised if you can find more battles such as this over the industry.

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