Monday, May 30, 2011

Disney and Copyright

Media pirates and the anti-copyright intelligentsia consider The Walt Disney Company one of the poster children for evil corporate media because they are trying to hold on to their copyright for as long as possible. These folks believe that all of Disney’s archives of old films and cartoons should go into public domain as fast as possible.  
I’ve been thinking about this position and what it would mean for consumers.
Right now, Disney brings out its classic archives to resell every time the media changes.  When VCR tapes began to be replaced by DVDs, Disney opened its archives of films like Snow White and Fantasia to put them on DVDs.  But instead of just slapping them onto the new media, they used the very latest technology to make the colors brighter, the images sharper, and the music better suited to current electronic systems.  
Every time one of the old films is brought out, it gets a makeover like this which costs lots of money and man hours.
If these films went into public domain, Disney would no longer have a reason to update them.  The films online would be bad copies of faded copies, and as the online technology changes, those bad copies would have to be translated, yet again, and the quality of the picture and sound would degrade even further.
Parents would have to worry that online versions of the film had been edited by someone who didn’t approve of certain elements of the film, or that some sicko has inserted adult material into it.
Considering all this, I’ve decided that having a free public domain version of Fantasia is far too expensive for those of us who want future generations to enjoy a classic Disney film.