UPDATED: Hulu, the joint venture from NBC and News Corp. that offers free streaming video (with embedded ads) and will be going public sometime in 2008, has all the episodes of Firefly available for viewing and for embedding in your own web pages and blogs. And they're offering the pilot episode for free to everyone right now. Which would be cool.
Except that the writers of Firefly do not currently get anything for this service, which is the main thing the Writers Guild of America's writers' strike is about. Ordinarily writers get paid an upfront amount and the rest of their pay comes in the form of residuals, percentages of income from re-broadcast. But studios are putting shows and making money from advertising, claiming that playing an entire episode is "promotional" — which is, technically, true, they're "promoting" Ford and Chevrolet and Bank of America and Johnson and… What it means is that the studios have found a way to make money from reruns without paying the promised residuals to the writers (or actors or directors), and they're fighting to keep it that way. The writers, seeing that more and more entertainment will be moving to the web, are fighting to keep their future income from being stolen away. And I kinda like the writers.
UPDATED AGAIN: After proudly posting the "pilot episode" of Firefly for free — although it was actually "Our Mrs. Reynolds," which was neither the pilot episode or the first episode aired — they apparently listened to the comments and put the right one up, and the episodes in order. However, the numerous posts made by viewers expressing their polite regret that they cannot watch the episodes until writers are compensated fairly have not been approved by Hulu. Ah, well.
So I'd like to urge SerenityStuff readers to avoid Hulu completely, "free" Firefly or not. I flatly refuse to watch any licensed streaming video from Hulu or network websites until the strike is resolved and the writers get fair compensation, and I'd appreciate it if you joined me. Go buy the DVDs instead, at least the writers get something for those. Not much, not what they deserve to get, but something.