Some of the company’s tactics post-merger were garden-variety ruthless, like eliminating 87 series from its streaming platform Max, so that they won’t have to pay union-mandated residuals to the talent that created already-existing programs or pony up funds to produce more seasons of existing ones (such as “Our Flag Means Death,” one of the company’s most popular and critically acclaimed comedies—canceled after just two seasons). Other decisions appear coldly pragmatic at first glance but reveal themselves as counterproductive after a closer look, like offloading formerly exclusive HBO productions like “Band of Brothers” to Netflix or cutting the number of available Looney Tunes and offering them to rivals (those characters are literal mascots for the company; imagine Disney+ doing the same with Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy cartoons, and the horrified reaction of devotees of that brand). Taken to extremes, the mentality is the equivalent of trying to get your weight down by slicing off fingers, toes and ears. The number on the bathroom scale is reduced, but the corporate body politic is traumatized from shock and blood loss, and nobody considered the long-term health ramifications.
It has been pointed out to me that companies own things and therefore can do whatever they want with them. Being an American, I’m aware of that position.
But I’m also aware that—in theory, at least—governments exist (in part) to regulate corporations, in order to stop them from doing things that are deleterious or destructive to the public good and to individuals who work for them. They have the means and motive to step in, whether declaring certain kinds of waste dumping to be illegal, trying to prevent private companies from bribing or otherwise influencing public officials, or mandating that TV networks cannot blast the volume of ads to make them audible to viewers who leave the room during commercial breaks. (Yes, that last thing is real; it’s legislation known as the CALM Act.)
They should do something similar for all types of media. The template could be the moral rights of artists in some European markets, which you can read about at length here.
A selective adaptation of that idea for the United States is the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990, which smart lawyers might want to look into. Among other things, it grants artists “the right to prevent distortion, mutilation, or modification that would prejudice the author’s honor or reputation.”
Whatever the technical legality of writing off completed films and destroying them for pennies on the dollar, it’s morally reprehensible: Oller memorably calls it “an accounting assassination.” Defending it on grounds that it’s not illegal is bootlicking.
You can view the original article HERE.