26 February 2016

F%$# the Mouse

You know, now that Mickey has stopped palling around with Michael Eisner, Disney has really gone to the dark side:
The Walt Disney Company has a reputation for lobbying hard on copyright issues. The 1998 copyright extension has even been dubbed the “Mickey Mouse Protection Act” by activists like Lawrence Lessig that have worked to reform copyright laws.

This year, the company is turning to its employees to fund some of that battle. Disney CEO Bob Iger has sent a letter to the company’s employees, asking for them to open their hearts—and their wallets—to the company’s political action committee, DisneyPAC.

In the letter, which was provided to Ars by a Disney employee, Iger tells workers about his company's recent intellectual property victories, including stronger IP protections in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a Supreme Court victory that destroyed Aereo, and continued vigilance about the "state of copyright law in the digital environment." It also mentions that Disney is seeking an opening to lower the corporate tax rate.

"With the support of the US Government we achieved a win in the Supreme Court against Aereo—an Internet service claiming the right to retransmit our broadcast signals without paying copyright or retransmission consent fees," writes Iger. "In the coming year, we expect Congress and the Administration to be active on copyright regime issues, efforts to enact legislation to approve and implement the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, tax reform, and more proposals to weaken retransmission consent, to name a few."

The source who provided the letter to Ars asked to remain anonymous, and they were bothered by the assumption that anyone who worked for Disney would agree with the company's political positions on tax, trade, intellectual property, and other matters.

"It just seems insensitive to folks that support the company but don't necessarily support all of its priorities," the source said. "Especially for something like TPP, which I view as particularly controversial. We do have a company position, but there's going to be a wide variety of opinion [within the company]."

The Disney letter has language explicitly reassuring employees that their jobs won't be affected by their decision whether or not to give to DisneyPAC.

"Your contribution is important to all of us, but I want to emphasize that all contributions are voluntary and have no impact on your job status, performance review, compensation, or employment," writes Iger. "Any amount given or the decision not to give will not advantage or disadvantage you."
If you believe that Disney won't be making a list and checking it twice, you still believe in Santa Claus.

This isn't a United Way drive, this is a demand to employees that they give to an organization promulgating Disney's interest.

As I said at the start, f%$# the mouse.


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