In a rather animated new debate, California-based film companies, including Walt Disney Co. & DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. are being sued in a wage-fixing antitrust case.
Plaintiffs in the case are accusing the companies of colluding not to hire software engineers, animators, and other digital artists that are currently or have previously been employed at one of the other companies in question. Employees claimed they have been harmed by this agreement, which effectively stamps out competitive wages. Tech giants such as Apple, Google, and Adobe are facing a similar suit for similar claims.
Indeed, Apple plays a large part in the animation antitrust suit. The claims being contested began in the 1980s, when George Lucas of Star Wars fame sold his computer animation division to Steve Jobs’ Pixar. Lucas and Pixar President Edwin Catmull allegedly reached an agreement not to seek out each other’s employees. This agreement eventually expanded to include other animated film studios, including two branches of Sony Corp, ImageMovers, Digital Domain 3.0, and those mentioned above.
While Catmull claims that this collusion has been a boon for business in Northern California – in 2007, he is quoted as saying that wars have been avoided because of these agreements. However, animators who have been affected by the collusion feel they have been cheated. According to the complaint filed, digital artists and software engineers have been denied opportunity to express their creative talents, gain international recognition for their work, and cash out on their artistic visions.
Written by Shayna Keyles