Movies are among my favorite storytelling medium. It’s incredible when thousands of people working together can produce a film that can make you feel and keep you thinking even weeks after having seen it. There is a dark underbelly of the film industry, however. Like many industries Hollywood often uses the state to limit competition.
Government Granted Monopolies
Consider copyright protections. When copyright protections were established in the US they gave authors a monopoly over their work for just 28 years after being published. Today (thanks in large part to lobbying on the party of Disney) copyright protections extend now to the life of the author plus seventy years! That means any story written today cannot be interpreted by anyone else for another hundred years!
This is particularly frustrating considering that Disney built its empire on taking already existing stories and telling them in a new way. (Think; Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Robin Hood, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, The Jungle Book, Pinocchio, Peter Pan, Treasure Planet, I could go on). Instead of embracing the concept of creative retelling and competing for people’s dollars on a level playing field, Disney made sure that no one would be able to tell their stories for the next hundred years without their say-so.
A Company In Peril
A case currently in court is another example of Hollywood using the state to bulldoze competition. VidAngel is a streaming service that enables people to buy movies from them and then filter out the content that they don’t want. (It gets really specific, there’s even a Jar Jar Binks filter so that you never have to see him again!)
VidAngel was careful to follow the laws that would allow them to operate, but still the Walt Disney Co., Lucasfilm, 20 Century Fox, and Warner Brothers sued them anyway. The filtering service’s lawyers informed them that this could go all the way up to the Supreme Court and that they would need $5 million if they wanted to continue this fight all the way to the top. Instead of giving up they rallied support from their loyal customers and raised $10 million dollars! The donations kept coming in and they had to stop accepting donations.
When you own a movie, you can do what you want with it. Hollywood should not be able to tell you how to watch your movie. You control the experience. Whether you like the lights on or off, whether you like popcorn or not, and whether you want to filter out certain parts of your movies (like Jar Jar Binks). That’s none of Hollywood’s business.
Don’t let Hollywood steamroll a company providing a highly valuable service! Like I said they are no longer accepting donations but you can support VidAngel by signing this petition at savefiltering.com.