"For example, when an actor works on a TV show (commercials are a much more complicated beast, so I'll stick with TV for this example) the initial fee that actor earns usually includes one or two re-airings by the producer. If the producer chooses to run the show again, a cycle begins, where the producer pays the actor a residual, or re-use fee, that slowly diminishes over time. The logic behind this is that if producers are re-running an old show, rather than creating a new one, actors have fewer opportunities to work. Also, if a show is re-run very often, the producer will continue to profit from advertising sales, while the actor gets over-exposed as one character, which can severely hurt that actor's chances of being hired in different roles. I suppose one could make the argument that, in that case, it is profit-sharing, but I think that's largely semantic as well. The point is, producers and actors have had this residual payment agreement for my entire career, and it's not exactly a controversial issue."
I started watching TNG (Yes I was extremely bored!) yesterday. Farpoint station. Since startrek TNG used to play a lot on cable, I wonder how much of the proceeds went to wil wheaton. It must be hard to keep track of all the re-runs being done, and who to pay.