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January 11, 2007

CES: Are the creatives keeping up with technology?

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano at 4:14 PM

LAS VEGAS -- I reported today on representatives of the actors and directors guilds who were at CEStrying to learn about new technologies for delivering content and how their profession may be impacted.

Creative types have been showing up at mobile communications industry conferences, too, according to my colleague Tricia Duryee, who attends plenty of them.

A reader of today's story was worried whether the entertainers and artists are doing enough to catch the anytime, anywhere content wave:

They seem passive in the face of a juggernaut of challenges to their copyright and moral rights, the foundation stones of their income stream. I remember when digital photography emerged as a new medium in the late'80s and photographers pounced on it like a cat on a mouse. The old timers wanted to kill it with insults and insinuations, while the youth embraced its potential. The youth were right, but they didn't foresee the arrival of huge digital libraries that have turned photography into a commodity. This is going to happen to movies, just like it's happened to music, with radical impact on incomes. In your article, actor Carlton traces the lineage of his royalties from Robocop. He may not know it, but those days are over. Movies are becoming commodities, too, and Robocop is one selection among hundreds of thousands. YouTube is the model, and the Screen Actors Guild membership is going to be hammered.

On that last point, the guild members I talked to are very aware of and concerned about YouTube.

"Essentially YouTube is built with the use of copyrighted, unlicensed content and many of those video presentations have Screen Actors Guild members in them," said Brian Hamilton, a SAG board member who serves on the union's new technologies committee. "How will they be compensated?"

He thinks he knows the answer, and it doesn't sound all that good for his members: "I'm envisioning a lot of backroom compensation going on that will short-change the performer."

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Tricia Duryee
Tricia Duryee
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Angel Gonzalez
Angel Gonzalez
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Kristi Heim
Kristi Heim
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Benjamin J. Romano
Benjamin J. Romano
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Mark Watanabe
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