A Pedantic Moment

May 14th, 2004 · No Comments
by Booksquare

We don’t follow entertainment industry lawsuits closely because they are, once you start paying attention, all pretty much the same. But recently an item in The Writer (getting to the actual story appears to be an exercise in complexity, so you’ll have to trust us) caught our attention…not so much for what it is, but for a small inaccuracy we found perpetuated throughout the press (this may actually qualify as real research, but we’d have to check). We’d like to bring this to your attention because, as we previously noted, it is very important that writers understand agreements before they sign them.

While we are quite sure there were shenanigans by Sullivan Entertainment, leading to a lawsuit filed by Lucy Maud Montgomery’s heirs over the television movies based on Anne of Green Gables, we note the press has misstated the issue. Each story we found declared the heirs were cheated out of their share of the profits. This is where we grow a bit pedantic — if anything, the heirs were cheated out of proceeds. No self-respecting motion picture agreement would ever use the word profit — proceeds are determined based on a complex calculation that makes publishers’ royalty statements look like first grade math. Profit implies some sort of financial stake in the company, and that is rarely the case. If you are ever lucky enough to receive a so-called backend deal for your work, please understand the agreement, and please understand that, as a lowly writer, you probably won’t get bupkus in terms of proceeds. We’re sorry — there was no good way to say that.

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