Intellectual property exists to encourage science and the useful arts. It doesn't exist to extract every last penny of value out of a show for its owners.
In a world where copyright existed for twenty years, rather than 95-120 years, Seinfeld still would have been made. No one is green-lighting a television show with the expectation of huge distribution agreements decades later.
I'm not generally one to bash corporations, but US copyright law is among the clearest examples of corporations writing our laws to the detriment of consumers.
> In the USA Copyright lengths are very simple. Anything older than Mickey Mouse is public domain and everything else is still copyrighted.
Disney Fatigue has already set in:
Disney with Fox (who will only have contributed 15% of their percentage or 4% overall) have a 40% box office revenue percent this year. That is absolutely insane. I’m not sure when the last a company had that much of the box office. But it hasn’t been done for a while.
Lion King grossed $1.6B. $1B outside the US and $500M+ in the US/CA. Yet one of the articles was trying to use the movie as an example of Disney’s decline? I can’t come up with words to describe how silly that is.
I personally do not like Disney controlling the media market so much and do not like most of what they put out. But I’m not going to straight up lie and say their dominance isn’t there.
Not because it was bad per-se, it was an experience but I don't need to repeat that experience.
With so many great and interesting places to visit in the world, why would you want to go over and over to a tacky manufactured landscape like that?
The downside of course is that it's all tremendously expensive. But more than anything I view it as quality time with family in a way that I generally otherwise never get to have (they live across the country). It's more about family time and doing what they love more than it is about anything Disney
Also it helps I've traveled a lot to most everywhere I've ever had interest in traveling to. I'm not really sacrificing trips somewhere else in favor of Disney
A sometimes big part of their total compensation is the royalties their works generate, sometimes many years into the future. Authors will often have an entire back catalogue of books that are still out there generating money, which is what always them to continue working on writing new books.
Or take for example the indie game developer that was featured in HN posts for a few weeks. He lays out the calculations for how much money his games make, and a significant part of it is a calculation of how much the game will make over its lifetime - not in the first two years, but over many years. And this includes e.g. spinoffs.
Now, I'm not saying 95-120 years is the "correct" duration - I'd probably say less, as well. But it's not obvious at all to me that 20 years is enough time - it's probably not.
Different mediums can expect vastly different audience retention. Outside of the biggest hits, most TV won't be attracting attention 10-15 years down the line, but books are probably more in the 20-30yr dropoff.
Copyright lifetimes simply don't reflect the profitable lifetimes of most products.
Really that seems like such a strange viewpoint. All of these shows that Netflix is creating right now, they are definitely value adds that will carry them forward well into the future. If it wasn't for the huge success of old shows, Netflix wouldn't have gotten into this game.
Today a few shows are valuable decades after they aired, but as a percentage of value at creation it’s a drop in the bucket. Even in Seinfeld’s case the show was already into the multi billion dollar category. It’s revenue today adds the equivalent of less than 1% of it’s total.
I'd say they've made some stuff that has a shot of being rewatched: Master of None, Love, Russian Doll, and I'm sure more. And then there's their additions to already popular things like their installments of Wet Hot American Summer, Dark Crystal, Black Mirror etc.
Netflix is making some decent content. Lots of not so great stuff, but some good in there too. Just like TV.
House of Cards launched February 2013 (7 seasons, finished)
Orange is the New Black launched July 2013 (7 seasons, finished)
Stranger Things launched July 2016 (3 seasons, 1-2 more)
Dark (2 seasons, 3rd is last)
Glitch (2 seasons, 3rd might never come)
Russian Doll (1 season)
Haunting of Hill House (1 season, anthology)
American Vandal (2 seasons)
Black Mirror (anthology, last season not that good)
The Crown (3 seasons)
When They See Us (mini-series, 2019)
Unbelievable (just came out)
Glow (3 seasons)
Kimmy Schmidt (4 seasons, finished)
Arrested Development (they tried, hard to get it all back together after years of being done)
Sex Education (1 season)
Bojack Horseman (5 seasons?) #animated
Mindhunter (2 seasons)
The OA (2 seasons)
Wet Hot American Summer (2 seasons, but season 1 is the top notch one)
F is for Family (3? seasons) #animated
Big Mouth (2? seasons) #animated
Making a Murderer
Wild Wild West
There’s more I’m missing and I didn’t include a number of shows Netflix helps finance but isn’t the main financier or producer or original place of distribution. Shows like Glitch.
So in an alternative reality where Seinfeld's copyright expired, its possible that SD TV captures of all the episodes would be free and publicly available (great!), but an HD conversion would never be made (not great).
However if you create new credits, titles, interstituals, etc. then it generally does qualify as a new work.
This has actually been the state of tv licensing economics for decades, since I Love Lucy popularized reruns. That show has never been off the air since it first aired. Other long-running shows longer-lived than the proposed-20 year term include anytime soaps still on the air today, The Simpsons, Law & Order or its spinoffs, CSI, NCIS.
Indeed, potential longevity is one of the metrics by which shows are scored when determining whether to buy or renew them. Firefly, for example, had no potential for distribution when it came out and was unceremoniously cancelled at the turn of the century, but today would have likely lived many seasons on Amazon or Netflix.
Basically, a long-running franchise like Seinfeld is the TV equivalent of a FAANG-era tech unicorn. It's what every showrunner secretly hopes for.
I personally have no moral issue with pirating because I believe anything put out for public consumption is just that - in the hands of the public. I think copyright law is about as dumb as me saying something in public and then charging people to quote me. Even with zero copyright law we'd still see a tremendous about of money and investment into media. Even with piracy we rarely see movies of a watchable definition on torrent sites while still in theathers, people (including me) would still pay for music streaming, ad-free Youtube, and so on. There's still plenty of money to be made without ridiculous lawsuits and bullying and harassment and exploitation.
Also most of the episodes seem very much of their era, and it's been 20+ years. Will episodes that relied on their extreme relatability still work when the target audience has never actually experienced that situation? In Chinese Restaurant when George is desperate to get access to a pay phone - how does that play with Gen Z?
I'd add....I think a large reason for this is the success of the show in syndication, which has added it to its longevity and ability to stay top of mind for people long before the streaming services came along.
Jerry Seinfeld is a bit of a clean freak? Frank Reynolds strips naked, shaves his whole body, and slathers himself in hand sanitizer to keep the germs away:
The guys on the show are kind of disrespectful toward their romantic partners? Dennis is a monster:
George is kind of stupid? Charlie is straight up mentally challenged:
Elaine dances the funky chicken? Dee is an actual bird:
Also they did a parody of Seinfeld last season.
Larry David + Jerry Seinfeld is the definition of comedic synergy.
I'm a Seinfeld fan (thanks to Curb, in fact) and I think you underestimate the success and relevancy it still has today, like Friends (but without the cheap emotional stuff).
As a fun anecdotal data, uTorrent stats on my home computer shows that Seinfeld is way way more uploaded that anything else I have.
He’s also doing that Coffee and Cars with Comedians thing and I’m certain that a name as big as Seinfeld isn’t getting screwed on his contract there.
Seinfeld is certainly among the wealthiest individuals but he doesn’t strike me as greedy.
Also, show was fantastic, truly a master of his craft. And the creators of the show Seinfeld deserve there rewards for such an outstanding contribution to our culture.
But copy write laws are borked and things should enter the public domain earlier.
I have a Hulu ad-free subscription purely for watching it, which I will be cancelling as soon as Seinfeld moves over to Netflix.
Kids today won't understand those plots. :)
Kids are going to understand those plots just fine. You should spend some time reassessing your understanding of today's youth.
And in fact I'd say I'm pretty in tune with today's youth. I have lots of teenage family, as well as friend's kids to talk to about these things. I make it a point to ask them questions about how things are different today than when I was a teen, so I can have a better understand.
My first question is always, "How do you learn about new music?" As a teen, they way I learned about new music was from the radio: the DJs would tell us what the cool new songs were. But that curated experience is missing today. Spotify sort of gets there, but it's not really the same.
My second question is always, "How do you talk to your friends?". And surprisingly, the number one answer recently has been "In person". Today's teens are starting to have a backlash against social media and actually like to connect in person, which was refreshing to hear. But number two is usually Snapchat or similar "erase after consuming" media. "Facebook is for grandma" and Instagram is for "only the good stuff that I want everyone to see". Texting is often in the mix too, but they are very aware that texts cane be easily saved and monitored.
Although directly to your point, kids experience missed phone calls a bit differently. Mostly it's more like "I was camping this weekend with my family and they didn't have cell service!".
The desk phones at work were so useless they didn't even bother to hook them up for new employees unless you specifically asked for them.
While I know that sounds super lazy, it's just so much easier to not have to disc juggle and have Netflix deal with all that (admittedly minor) logistics junk.
edit : Sienfield is also one of my all time favourite shows
A video that addresses some of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFIrsitJW5M
I think one is slightly more popular today than the other.
Not that you're wrong about Seinfeld being, oh, let me guess, somewhere between two to six orders of magnitude more popular, depending on how many dozens of people are watching the "Cheap Syndication" subchannel at any given time.
So the last thing to be enthused about as some kind of "exclusive" offer on your on-demand service?
I mean sure, a bike and a Ferrari will both get you from one place to another, but saying they're equivalent is a bit of a stretch.
Once you have been swarmed with Seinfeld for 3 decades it's pretty difficult for it to be a big deal that you now also have it "on demand".
Though my point was more in the vein, Seinfeld is hardly relevant for most people below 30, and there's so much good TV the last decade, it's hardly important for people over 30 as well...
I recently subscribed & canceled Netflix as all I saw were a bunch of shows and movies I've never heard of.
They need to chill out with pushing all this unknown content their making in their UI/UX; show more familiar/legacy content with spattering of their biggest/most popular Netflix shows/movies.
I'm excited for Disney plus and will definitely subscribe. Marvel tv shows!!!