• Company Subject to Writer's Union Received Objection Regarding User-Generated Content
  • May 4, 2009
  • Law Firm: Winston & Strawn LLP - Chicago Office
  • The Writers Guild of America (WGA) has objected to a television network's request for story ideas from mothers for its new sitcom, claiming that it violates the network's contract with the guild. ABC created a new sitcom that was based on an online video series that featured brief vignettes about funny, stressed-out moms, which were inspired by stories submitted by viewers via an online forum. ABC initially invited viewers to suggest story ideas on the new show's Web site, saying that they "might just become inspiration for a story by the writers." In an attempt to avoid problems with the writer's guild, ABC required that viewers submitting ideas acknowledge that they were not members of the WGA and to waive any right to on-screen credit. Notwithstanding these precautions, the WGA objected to the use of user-generated content by the network, saying that companies with a guild contract "cannot ask someone to write and deliver literary material without paying at least the applicable minimum for it." ABC responded by deleting references to the show's writers.

    TIP: Companies subject to union requirements that request user-generated content should consider whether its union obligations restrict their use of such content.