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Disney Assumes Full Control of Hulu in Deal with Comcast (variety.com)
186 points by dsr12 11 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 136 comments

I am surprised Disney didn't just buy out universal. If they did they would own all 10 of top 10 grossing movies of all time. As it is they own 8 out of the 10 with the fox purchase.

It feels like Disney is becoming too powerful. I am surprised regulators didn't look harder at the Fox deal.

It was an asset deal. Should regulators really be preventing a team of people from buying up historical intellectual property? Fox put its property on the market, this wasnt a hostile takover.

Yes when one group starts to control too much. I feel like that's the primary purpose of antitrust regulations.

Benedict Evens' newsletter this week made a good point in regards to breaking up tech:

"anti-trust theory, on both the diagnosis side and the remedy side, seems to be flummoxed when faced by products that are free or as cheap as possible, and that do not rely on familiar kinds of restrictive practices (the tying of Standard Oil) for their market power. The US in particular has tended to focus exclusively on price, where the EU has looked much more at competition, but neither has a good account of what exactly is wrong with Amazon"

I think this is salient...what is Disney doing (so far) to BLOCK competition?

In actual film theaters (not VOD) they're forcing theaters to give up a larger % of the ticket revenue, requiring that films be shown in the larger auditoriums and enforcing multi-week showtimes.

This article describes the requirements for The Last Jedi, but my understanding is that this is pretty close to the requirements for any Marvel/StarWars/Disney film at this point.


I have no doubt the requirements for Endgame were ridiculous. I waited a week to see it and of the 9 screens in my local Cineplex, 8 of them were still showing Endgame. The theater I was in was mostly empty, although to be fair it was a Sunday matinee.

I can kind of see demanding that kind of coverage for the first week, but for a second week you're just robbing from competing films and the theaters themselves.

>for a second week you're just robbing from competing films and the theaters themselves.

Which is absolutely the point

Antitrust theory as properly envisioned handles the case of low/free prices just fine. It’s only the warped and perverted version of antitrust theory advanced by Robert Bork and subsequently adopted by the US Government, where prices are the only measure of consumer harm, that can’t deal with it.

Fortunately the wheels are starting to turn to improve the situation— Lina Khan’s article in the Yale Law Journal about Amazon’s anticompetitive behavior has been an earthquake in the law world and we may be in the early stages of shaking off the Bork madness.

Lina Khan: https://www.yalelawjournal.org/note/amazons-antitrust-parado...

Thanks for the tip, I hadn't seen it anywhere yet.

1. Part of the problem is that large companies are no longer blocking competition; they're acquiring the competition. (eg. Many of Facebook's acquisitions, many of Disney's acquisitions). No need to block what you can just own.

2. I remember seeing an article on here recently that talked about how it is difficult to write down Amazon's exact offenses when their pricing algorithm is a secret.

I agree this should be the primary purpose of antitrust regulations but I do not believe this is how the American government has treated antitrust since the time of Reagan, if it ever did so before.

Control too much what? Movies? Entertainment is not a public service...

Exactly. We arent talking telecom spectrum, oil supply, rail road track. We are talking owning the IP to too many movies? Theres a cap on how much art you can own?

What if Disney was a private collector and bought up all the words art, and sealed it away, or charged admission at a single museum.

I feel like that would work out poorly for Disney. I also think that, despite the importance of art, life would go on much the same. This isn't exactly a hill I want to die on, but I'm not terribly worried about any one entity buying up the worlds' movies (or other artwork) and restricting it from people any more than it's already restricted.

People would (and will) make new movies, new art. I have a hard time seeing the justification for an overarching central control (if there even is one) policing who can own what and how much.

Competition is good.

When laws (eg, Copyright) allow consolidation like this, the laws are probably going to hurt consumers.

We should seriously consider changing Copyright.

> What if Disney was a private collector and bought up all the words art, and sealed it away, or charged admission at a single museum.

If they provide all the museum security, fine. But in the real world Disney relies on the US legal system to protect their collection.

Do you know about the demise of the studio system in Hollywood?


> Should regulators really be preventing a team of people from buying up historical intellectual property?

That's not the question, is it? Take any monopoly from history and examine individual purchases, and they can usually be reduced to a question like yours that seems benign.

Murder isn't the act of firing a gun, it's the act of firing a gun at someone with the intent to kill them.

Yes. If a company doing X makes it to powerful, regulators should prevent X.

Yes, if it becomes a monopoly.

Ok, so no problem here then? Owning a share of the supply doesn't in and of itself make Disney a monopoly. How is competition being stifled here?

Try making an animated version of Cinderella.

So you don't think IP should exist at all? And that's not what "monopoly" means.

Cinderella is public domain.

IP is by definition a monopoly.

It's because Disney regulates the regulators.

We call the mickey mouse law, the mickey mouse law for lols and giggles...

why do you assume Comcast wants to sell NBC Universal? As a former Comcast employee, it feels like they have no intention of doing that.

And they won't ever in the future, either, unless they buy another content provider or get acquired. Content is getting more expensive every year, and if you don't own it, you're leasing it. People are cutting the cord more as video and voice is becoming less and less desirable. Soon the only things that will matter will be internet and streaming content, and internet will probably become a public utility in the next decade or two. As consolidation continues, they'll have to pull a Netflix, then divest or break up their internet service so they don't have the government do it for them.

> Content is getting more expensive every year,

Do you have a source for this? It seems like supply is increasing at an almost exponential rate, so I'd be surprised if content prices are increasing on a per-unit basis.

HBO CEO Richard Plepler said "Rights are getting more expensive" in an interview from 2017 (https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/16/netflix-earnings-how-much-is...)

Paying out more money for licensing when they don't own the content is like paying rent; it doesn't net you any money in the future, and the market (and your own strength in it) determines your negotiating position, so you may have to pay more to keep showing it later.

Streaming companies like Netflix and Amazon realized this and began producing original content years ago, with costs going toward longer term profits, reduced licensing costs, and increased subscribers of exclusive content. Over 85% of Netflix's new spend in 2018 was on original content, and that year it produced more movies than all major movie studios combined. Not only is licensing content expensive, but an exclusive license is prohibitively expensive; generating the content yourself and keeping it exclusive is a way to attract subscribers and not lose as much cash, and retain have a long-term investment.

This year, Netflix is estimated to spend 15 billion on original content alone. In 2018, Netflix spent 15 billion on content (ballooning up from the 8 billion it estimated before that year began). Compare to 2016 when it spent over 5 billion on content, and 2012 when it spent just 2 billion. Each year they've spent more on content, in part because the licensing is getting more expensive, and in part to produce such a big corpus of original content. But at the same time, its content library has shrank by more than half. They offset this loss of content by leaning on their recommendation algorithm to maximize the content viewed by users.

Compare to HBO, which generally has had marginal increases in content licensing fees. It does this by making nearly all of its TV programming original, and licensing films. Netflix is essentially following HBO's model, but more so.

As even more evidence, Comcast and Disney are moving toward original and exclusive content. Disney is buying Comcast's stake in Hulu, after it recently bought FOX's rights. And NBC plans to put out its own streaming service, where it will probably keep its own content exclusively after 2024.

https://www.fool.com/investing/2016/06/20/netflix-inc-conten... https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/062515/how-n... https://www.forbes.com/sites/danafeldman/2018/07/09/netflixs... https://variety.com/2019/digital/news/disney-full-control-hu...

It's TV and movies. There's no reason to regulate the production of creative content. Just do something else with your time.

Why is Disney going to keep their Disney Plus streaming service separate from Hulu??? Why is Disney keeping ESPN Plus streaming service separate from Hulu (with hulu's massive push into live sports this year)???

It’s actually a really wise business decision to keep all these separate.

- Hulu advertising tier: this can be the dumping ground for all the mainstream network television that Disney and Fox owned, allowing them to monetize that content after broadcast

- Hulu premium: compete with Netflix for premium television, can be more mature, and allows for monetizing viewers willing to pay for ad-free.

- Disney+: obviously a different brand with content requirements, it can allow Disney to grow their brand, and monetize the most “die-hard” fans, on top of other channels.

- ESPN+: live is very important, and allows premium advertising revenues to be generated. Sports does not have much crossover with other channels, and has unique business models.

All of these allow Disney to continue making tons of money from the current cable bundles, while opening new markets and segments for monetization, all while defending against threats like Netflix, etc.

I don’t own Disney stock, but their current situation seems very considered, given the current market and where it is going. I think they have single handedly disrupted Netflix’s plan to be the new “TV”.

Agree, one thing I want to clarify: - D+ will not host rated-R content, while Hulu will. Any R-rated original content produced or contracted by Disney will go directly to Hulu.

Less sure about the separation between Hulu's live sports play and ESPN+. It could just be a timing thing as Disney has only had a controlling stake in Hulu for a month (officially). There will likely be a lot of integration and cross over between the 2 eventually.

Netflix can't be the new "TV" in the traditional sense. The two lanes of consumption, traditional live linear and VOD (video-on-demand), have different audiences with different needs. Netflix can compete in the later but Disney is going for BOTH.

> traditional live linear and VOD (video-on-demand), have different audiences with different needs

{{citation needed}}

I found myself enjoying live Tennis on Amazon Prime, and it serves a very similar purpose to me as watching their vod shows

So how does their existing streaming service, DisneyLife, fit into all this?

Highly recommend reading Stratchery's take on this: https://stratechery.com/2019/disney-and-the-future-of-tv/

So they can charge you 3 times as much

This is the right answer. It's in Disneys best interest to keep the market fragmented and force you to subscribe and pay for multiple services. The cord cutter dream of a la carte being cheaper and easier to control is dead.

It is easier to control, and it's cheaper if you don't want all of it. That's the whole point of a-la-carte. Not that it will be cheaper than a bundle if you wanted a bundle in the first place. But that you can pay for what you want. At some sub-bundle size (90%? 80%? 50%?), you'll pay less money. You'll direct your dollars towards services you actually value, rather than whatever sports entertainment commentary complex strong-armed the cable companies the most aggressively.

> market fragmented and force you to subscribe and pay for multiple services. The cord cutter dream of a la carte being cheaper and easier to control is dead.

That's exactly what "a la carte" means. It seems like what people really want is the opposite of "a la carte" service--a one-stop-shop for everything, like cable, except over the Internet.

Some people might want that, but I and many people I know don't. If you don't consume hours and hours and hours of media, then a la carte is much cheaper.

I always have thought that a surfeit of choice would have driven prices down, but maybe my movin' picture watching needs are different than most consumers (basically 100% amateur youtube at this point).

I think that one of the great ironies of on-demand media is just how much stuff is locked up by rights holders and is unavailable. The Disneys and Netflixes of the world make remarkably small catalogs available. You should see some of the libraries that tv stations have sitting on the shelf.

Maybe it's just that a serious change in format and/or delivery always loses 90% of the previous material. It's funny how few LPs made it to CD.

> but maybe my movin' picture watching needs are different than most consumers (basically 100% amateur youtube at this point).

You're absolutely not alone and the fragmented ecosystem companies are building will accumulate interest. A lot of potential viewers will never be exposed to content due to fragmentation, and without a critical mass of subscribers, "must-see" content will never grow organically.

> I always have thought that a surfeit of choice would have driven prices down

Choice only drives priced down when it is choice between options which are actually substitutes for each other. What is instead happening is that the uniquely attractive franchises that people are interest in and not willing to substitute for something else are getting distributed over more different offerings, which isn't really competition in the sense that drives down prices much.

Price should stay down if you look at it as substitutes.

You can rotate your National Amusement(Viacom/CBS/Paramount), Disney/Fox/Hulu, Comcast/UniversalNBC, Sony, ATT/DirecTV/WB/Turner/HBO, Netflix accounts. They arent a contract. You have the incumbents (Disney, NA, Sony, Comcast, ATT, Verizon) vs the tech giants (Netflix, Apple, Google, Facebook.) One thing to notice is that Sony, Disney, and NA are now the odd ones out not owning an ISP. You buy one for a month each, cancel, switch to the next one.

It ends up being a LOT cheaper than cable if you rotate, and probably more expensive if you decide you need all channels at all times. The ability to rotate through them is a huge plus over cable/satellite.

Throw everything as add-ons into the Hulu app (which already has this for HBO etc) and you can charge exactly the same, but the user experience is way better than hopping between apps).

Shame that they're going to be totally separate ones. Seems purely branding, especially around "disney app" being more family friendly than a "Hulu app with just disney package."

Isn't this a version of a la carte? I don't want Disney content and with these separate apps I don't have to pay for it.

In reality I think most people's dream is access to everything ever made under one app for < $20 akin to Spotify.

> Isn't this a version of a la carte?

Yes spinning the same content out into more services with smaller catalogs that each cost as much as the old large-catalog service is a verion of a la carte, but its a version that illustrates (rather than contradicts) that the vision of a la carte as cheaper is dead (or perhaps more accurately was always a pipe dream.)

Is each individual catalog not cheaper than some massive catalog subscription? Or do you think that it is somehow possible to offer all of their content for $10/mn?

> Is each individual catalog not cheaper than some massive catalog subscription?

No, individual streaming service prices are mostly constant or edging up over time as catalogs shrink and more content owners set up their own exclusive siloed services.

But is it the same price as cable tv? Which I assume is what you mean by old large-catalog service.

I personally don't think they are even comparable services but I have not had cable service in ~15 years so things might have changed considerably.

Which will never happen

back to torrenting i guess :D

I subscribe to HBO, ShowTime, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, have an antenna. I pay less then half the amount I was paying to DirectTv. So it's not even close to dead.

I posit that something has to have been alive in order to die.

This is the kind of thing making piracy more attractive in this new era of no ownership.

Doubt it. Product bundling [0] is almost always a more profitable strategy.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Product_bundling

If you bundle different categories, like internet and streaming, then probably yes. Since there is no competition, there is no need to bundle.

But how many people would want all three streaming services? These are all separate products that will have different audiences.

Branding. With the Fox deal, Disney now owns multiple Networks (FX, FXX,etc), a ton of studios that make content, and huge back catalogs of content that is all super popular and valuable but is not aligned with the traditional Disney brand. Think: The Simpsons, Family Guy, The American Horror story series, etc.

Id argue that Fox is a better brand than Hulu. As long as their trademark for "Fox Cable Networks" allows them to use the word FOX, they would be better off with a dual branded app. Or make Hulu the portal that allows you to buy/manage your Disney+/Fox/ESPN/ABC subscriptions.

The thing to remember about hulu is a TON of hardware remotes have a physical Hulu button. You wouldnt want to lose that kind of placement without remapping it to a new app.

I think the Fox News brand has probably rendered the rest of the Fox brand somewhat undesirable. At a minimum it's just too quickly associated with politics and divisiveness to use for entertainment products that are meant to be a pleasurable diversion.

Looking at it from a Dutch perspective this seems true: I doubt they could ever successfully use the Fox brand outside of the US due to Fox News.

I doubt rest of the world knows a lot about Fox News. Plus around half of the US doesn't mind Fox News. And half of the rest know Fox is separate entity than Fox News.

> knows a lot about Fox News.

Knows a lot? Probably not. Knows enough to disapprove of it? I'd say so. Especially when limited to the market of people interested in buying American video content.

Disagree on that as well. There is going to more exposure for local channels with Fox in their names along with 20th Century Fox logo that comes on before movies.

Fox doesn't have local channels outside the US, while Fox news usually makes it into the "international news" section of most satellite TV packages

I will give you 20th century fox, but I'm not sure that registers as being the same company.

You know, I even watched some shows on Fx but it never occured to me that it was Fox, looks like the rebrand was after I last had a tv subscription.

Not to mention that Fox News frequently is the subject of news itself.

E.g., this event got a fair amount of coverage the Netherlands:


But the general role and influence of Fox News in US politics and society is a frequent topic in journalism outside of the US as well of course.

Could it be that it can bring Disney Plus everywhere (I assume they have distribution rights on their own media), while Hulu is a mishmash of content rights, and still hasn't made it to Canada?

It might also be branding - Disney wants everything Disney to scream DISNEY, as opposed to Hulu content.

One of the benefits sold to shareholders for Disney buying all of Hulu was that it potentially makes it easier for Disney as guiding force to negotiate international rights on all the Hulu content and make Hulu an international brand. Though how much of that is spin and will actually happen is a leftover question.

Ah, that makes sense in a long term play.

Do we know if Disney has it's own rights for distribution? It must.

I would imagine so. Disney's biggest deals seem to have been with Hulu, so owning that outright gives it a lot of power to change deals, and with Netflix, which presumably part of the timing that Disney+ won't roll out until Fall is that coincides I believe with the expiration of the biggest of Disney's streaming licenses to Netflix (the one for access to films). (The Defenders MCU shows exclusive contract to Netflix I think will still take a few more years to expire before Disney can bring them "home".)

Disney Plus will be an add on to Hulu. It will have only the stuff a lot of people see as premium.

Look at Netflix. There’s no way to tell where any particular show fits without looking into it. Netflix needs some kind of sub branding to slit out the different niches of shows. Disney is going to get that out of the gate. And they will let just subxniches of people subscribe to just the part they want.

Possibly to allow more mature content without being directly marketed as 'Disney'?

That does appear to be the plan, keep the Disney (+) brand entirely family friendly (up to the PG-13 of Star Wars and Marvel) and let Hulu house all of the more mature stuff or stuff not traditionally associated with the Disney brand (such as the back catalogs of Fox's brands, Touchstone, Miramax, Buena Vista).

It also sounds from PR that despite taking control of Hulu, Disney also has interest in Hulu remaining their Live TV offering for non-Disney channels, and that Disney would still like Hulu to be a welcome home for what Time Warner and NBC Universal content it can continue to license, though that will probably start to get weird in coming years. It probably would still be in Disney's interests that Hulu seem a "neutral" or "cable" brand, especially given the actual cable infrastructure that AT&T (Time Warner) and Comcast (NBC Universal) directly control.

Im not saying it is or isnt the plan, but weve only really seen it as the plan from the press speculating. Disney hasnt really come out and said what IT wants to do with hulu. A year ago, Iger said they were going to continue to fuel it with content. Everything else is conjecture.

That's fair, it's all mostly going to be conjecture until we see actions in the Fall. I tried to couch my wording as what I've read and how it sounds in between the lines of shareholder reports and generic statements that could be taken either way until we see action.

If money is speech, Disney has been talking a lot in how much money it has spent on both the Disney+ project and the Hulu buyout. But speech of the money will always be a bit of reading the tea leaves and the color of the wind.

PG-13 would mean leaving out Marvel films like Deadpool though. Are they willing to leave out content in order to stay at PG-13?

Hulu is also only a US domestic service. Disney surely wants to sell subscriptions to its more mature material worldwide, just like Disney+.

Indications to shareholders are that Disney expects to make Hulu an international brand.

Also, Disney seems to have renewed Hulu's exclusive contracts for Cloak & Dagger and The Runaways, so it sounds like Disney is very prepared to take a "split" approach to Marvel with Hulu being home to an interesting subset of Marvel properties. It does sound like R-rated films like Deadpool will be on Hulu rather than Disney+, at least based on conjecture so far.

(I also wouldn't be surprised if all of the Fox X-Men stuff ended up at Hulu rather than Disney+, rather than confuse young fans of the current MCU. It may be Disney makes the dividing line be the "Marvel Studios" brand, of which the Fox films were not. But of course that remains to be seen.)

This is why Disney started the Touchstone Pictures label in the 1980s, so it would hardly be unprecedented for the company to maintain separate streaming brands for family and mature content.

The Nightmare Before Christmas is an interesting member of that group. They were concerned it was too dark.

Yeah, you can't picture "Disney's The Handmaid's Tale" or "Disney's Castle Rock."

The Disney brand is about family entertainment and mostly PG content. Hulu is for more adult content.

Hulu also has day after broadcast content with NBC,ABC, and FOX. Those are much more valuable than library content.

I doubt that's a long-term plan, I suspect it will all come together in some big Cable-Busting Netflix competitor announcement in the future.

Per the article, that IS the long-term plan.

>>> Disney sees Hulu as a key pillar in its direct-to-consumer strategy, serving as a home to more adult-oriented entertainment fare alongside the upcoming Disney Plus (launching in November in the U.S.) and the ESPN Plus sports package. Disney says it’s likely the trio of streaming services will be bundled together at a discount at some point.

That sounds like it'll remain three separate services, just one reduced price.

What am I missing? The bundling comment at the end sounds like what I suggested

It's where the market is heading -- away from all in one cable packages to pick and choice only what you want streaming services.

I’m worried that it will be difficult for the majority of people to realize how domineering Disney is beginning to become due to it’s historic legacy. It’s easy for someone to immediately point fingers at a company blandly titled Comcast or Viacom.

It’s hard for someone not at least somewhat industry aware to see evil in the Mickey Mouse Mass Media Cruise Ship Marvel Starwars Conglomerate.

Biggest take away from me is that NBC is raking in $500MM a year on their catalog, wow.

What if Yahoo had gained traction in video streaming as part of their MaVeNS strategy? It seems like even if they were an also ran as a streaming service they would have added a lot of value to the company. Unfortunately they did not execute successfully. But in hindsight I think that was a very good idea.

Seems like Hulu is US only. At least I can’t subscribe to them where I’m living. Can’t really understand why they don’t like to take my money. I’m sure I’m not the only one who would like to pay them, so that I could at least watch Handmaid’s Tale.

Worked at a similar company. The answer is licensing. It would require a complicated, multi-party legal re-negotiation, and I suspect Hulu doesn't see the upside.

Now that they have Hulu and Disney + , ESPN + and MoviesAnywhere,will there be a combined offering in line?

hope they don't kill Hulu's $6 ad supported plans..

What can I say, Playstation Vue is in deep trouble
danite 11 days ago [flagged]

Revert copyright back to the original 28 years and Disney's increasing domination of the media market becomes less of a concern. Of course this probably won't happen because the US and other world governments exist to serve Disney and their shareholders, but it's the easiest way to fix this that doesn't involve a long and complicated antitrust case that the government might lose in the courts.

If you want to be even more daring and spend a little bit of public money, you could have a publicly financed streaming service with most major public domain works. You could make it available through the Library of Congress.

Not that I necessarily disagree with the point but

    "the US and other world governments exist to serve Disney and their shareholders"
Is absurdly hyperbolic language, and makes me want to listen to your actual argument less. It sounds like a college freshman who's just learned how it all "really works".

How else did we get our current extreme copyright lengths? Were regular people advocating for this? Or was it for wealthy corporations and their shareholders? Did anyone responsible for the Great Recession face any legal consequences for destroying our economy and putting people out of their homes? Did people go to jail?

Call it hyperbole if you want, but it's the reality we're living in.

And is it a coincidence that copyrights have been extended to coincide with Disney’s major properties being scheduled to move into the public domain?


Like a lot of things in politics, it is a question of enthusiasm and motivation. There might not be a single individual person in this country in which reducing copyright protection is their most important issue (and if there is, I think that person has crazy priorities), but strengthening copyright is probably the single most important issue for Disney and other long-established media companies. Having a large group of people who are mildly in favor of something is much less likely to yield political change compared to a small group of people who feel incredibly strongly about that issue. This is the whole reason behind niche lobbying groups ranging from the NRA to the EFF and why those groups are able to have such a large impact on politics relative to their size.

There has been one copyright extension that can reasonably blamed on Disney lobbying.

There was one other that also affected Disney's copyright terms, but I can't find any evidence that Disney did any lobbying for that one, and even if they did it wouldn't have made a difference because that one had near universal support anyway because it was part of a major rewrite of US copyright law that did the most of the heavy lifting to make it feasible for the US to join the Berne Convention.

Your dismissal seems more hyperbolic than that statement. I think that statement is very plainly worded and uncontroversial.

May I suggest Kanopy, an excellent selection of streaming media free with a library card in the US?

Also, what about separating the delivery network providers from the content providers? Net neutrality would balance a lot of issues and reinvigorate competition and market forces.

In the context of constant growth encoded in the corporate DNA, corporate leadership has no other choice but make existing services more expensive and lobby to monetize things that were free (copyright extension).

The only reasonable way to fight against this is to write laws protecting society from this continuous encroachment.

Your library pays for that, it's not free for any library card, just libraries that pay for the resource. Hoopla is a similar service (with a worse catalog) that your library also may or may not pay for.

Kanopy is not available for Linux.

I believe it plays in the browser?

The following operating systems do not support DRM content protection:

- All Linux distributions (OpenBSD, Fedora, or Ubuntu)


This is the central concern. No matter how many platforms there are, there will be no, by definition, competition. The monopoly isn't on the platform, it's on the program. No one wants to subscribe to HBO or Amazon, they want Game of Thrones or Man in the High Castle.

I don't see the public interest angle here. This is merely entertainment. If even entertainment is something the government should be butting into because of unspecified "public interest" considerations, then what is outside the government's role?

Goodfellas, Dances with Wolves, Edward Scissorhands, Total Recall, Ghost, the Hunt for Red October, Back to the Future III, Pretty Woman, and the Godfather Part III were all released in 1990, 29 years ago. These were all created by a group of individuals, and studios spent millions of dollars paying those people to make those movies. The government had nothing to do with creating any of those movies. Why should the government be able to take those movies and release them for free?

> The government had nothing to do with creating any of those movies. Why should the government be able to take those movies and release them for free?

The government wouldn't be "releasing" any of these movies; it'd instead be telling the movies' creators: "You chose to make these movies available to the public in a form that makes them vulnerable to being copied. 'To promote the progress of science and useful arts' [0], we the people are willing to intervene on your behalf — but only for a limited time — to stop others from doing such copying. As to those particular movies, your time is now up; if you want us to intervene again on your behalf, it'll have to be for something new you've created, not for the same old stuff."

[EDIT:] That said, of course, the specific duration that copyrights should have is certainly a valid subject of discussion and debate.

[0] U.S. Const. art. 1 sec. 8 cl. 8. https://fairuse.stanford.edu/law/us-constitution/

By this logic there should no copyright protection in the first place for entertainment. Why should the government use law enforcement resources to track down people and take away their freedoms because they copied a movie?

Only because the government is already involved, protecting their interests, is there even anything to "take" in the first place.

The government shouldn’t use law enforcement resources to enforce copyright. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to file a civil suit for infringement. That doesn’t cost the government anything other than the general cost of having courts.

I think the separation between public and private interest may be more blurred thank you think. In an indirect ways, studios were able to spend money paying people to make those movies because the government provides a safe geographical space for that to happen. There's a reason you typically don't see many movies (certainly not entertainment movies) produced in countries ridden by war, for example. So a strong armed forces, internal police, a predictable legal system, etc., all of that is typically provided by a government and allows business, including movie studios, to run.

On a more direct way, I remember watching VHS movies as a kid in the 80s and there was an FBI piracy warning near the start of all tapes, so the studios do leverage the government to protect their business (and I don't have a problem with that in principle, if perhaps I disagree a bit with the extent of the protections).

By that reasoning, there is no reason for the government not to intervene in literally everything.

Maybe that’s true? Government is just a bunch of dudes, just like any corporation.

Should there be any areas of life where legislation doesn't apply?

There seems to be an assumption in this viewpoint that copyright is the state of nature for creative works, and removing copyright protections violates this natural order. This is the opposite of reality, though — copyright is an artificial restriction on expression and dissemination of knowledge, which would otherwise be free and unrestricted.

In other words, if you want to preserve or strengthen copyright, you're arguing for the government to butt in, not against it.

The government actually heavily subsidizes the entertainment industry through tax breaks. In Canada, a huge portion of the economy of Vancouver is in entertainment, which basically exists entirely on the back of tax incentives provided by the government of British Columbia in order to attract outsourcing work from Hollywood. If those tax breaks ended, then the industry would likely vanish overnight to offshoring. Similar situations apply on a lesser scale throughout the US, for example in Louisiana [1].

[1]: https://katc.com/news/2019/03/29/study-film-tax-break-costs-...

Local governments give tax breaks to entice movies to be filmed in certain places instead of in other places. Presumably they get their money's worth in terms of local economic activity and tourism. That doesn't give them any claim to the resulting movies. (Governments also use tax breaks to entice major employers like Amazon to locate in one jurisdiction versus the other. Nobody would equate those tax breaks with the government somehow helping Amazon run its service.)

> Presumably they get their money's worth in terms of local economic activity and tourism.

No, they don't. The fact that Vancouver is Hollywood North is industry inside baseball. The public doesn't know or care that the work is all outsourced (which is in fact how Hollywood wants it). The subsidies exist to bring jobs to the region--especially to keep artists employed, which is seen as socially desirable.

> Nobody would equate those tax breaks with the government somehow helping Amazon run its service.

But they do. That's why the entire controversy in NYC existed regarding the tax breaks for "Amazon HQ2", for instance. People were not happy with the government effectively subsidizing such a rich company.

I don't necessarily endorse the grandparent post's proposal--it seems extreme--though I do believe copyright terms are presently too long. However, I do think that the fact that the public subsidizes the entertainment industry is a valid argument in favor of concessions of some kind, for the simple reason that the public deserves its money's worth.

It's worth pointing out that Virginia offered among the most miserly tax breaks in the Amazon HQ2 "competition" (about $500 million when most cities were offering $2-4 billion), and yet Arlington was still one of the locations chosen. The HQ2 "competition" was almost certainly a ruse to get the target jurisdictions, chosen before it ever started, to shell out as much cash as possible, so it's not surprising that there was a massive controversy over the tax breaks.

Almost all creative works make the majority of their money in the first few years from their release, if not the first year itself. Movies, TV, etc. will still be extremely profitable businesses under a shorter copyright. Shorter copyrights also serve to help encourage creators and artists to continue to produce new works for the public to enjoy.

All these media monsters are already too big. They should be split apart, not allowed to buy more stuff.


This comment breaks the site guidelines. Would you mind reviewing them and sticking to them when posting here?

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May be you've noticed a dysfunctional anti-trust situation too.

They bought a bunch of old movies, how is that anti-trust. THeres a limit to how many old movies you can own? Disney isnt stopping people from making movies by buying the old Fox catalog?

By buying and owing the rights to it in what is essentially perpetuity. Look at actions of the company as a whole, not at one action in isolation.

I don't think it's a coincidence that this purchase comes at the same time when the first works released in 1923 are finally entering public domain [1]

[1] https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/04/copyw...

Buying changes to intellectual property ownership laws isnt antitrust tho, its regulatory capture.

Doubt any political party would care to pay people to post on HN. I think, it is a lot smaller than you think.

We used to have an entertainment industry in the United States. Now we just have Disney and Comcast. But $DEITY forbid we use existing antitrust laws (not to mention the Commerce Clause in the Constitution) to break up the megacorporations and clear the field for meaningful competition, because that would be socialism and we can't have that.

Name a movie that doesn't belong to Disney in 10sec. Go.

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