Disney's Anthony Accardo: The Tech Community Owes Content Creators A Living

from the wronger-than-wrongy-mcwrongson-from-wrongville dept

Anthony Accardo, a senior research analyst (or "Imagineer") for the Disney Corporation, recently posted an article in response to another HBR writer’s earlier post arguing that Big Content is stifling innovation. With wording that eerily echoes U2 manager Paul McGuinness’ handout plea of a few weeks ago, Accardo posits that the stifling of creativity is actually due to recalcitrant techies and their unwillingness to craft a better world for content producers.There’s a whole lot of suppositions in Accardo’s 800-word piece, most of which range from "wrong" to "laughable." Accardo leads in to his point-by-point dismantling with this presumptuous sentence:

"While I agree that content owners need to be much more open to embracing technology and innovation, I can’t help but point out some fundamental issues emanating from the tech community and ‘copyleft’ that obfuscate the real issues of copyright, digital monetization, and technology."

Well, now that one side of the argument has been marginalized as "obfuscation," we can go on to have a balanced discussion. Issue #1? Patents vs. copyright. And the techies are on the wrong side of this as well:

"A bias toward respecting the rights of patents over copyright exists in tech culture, and copyleft has sprung out of this."

Really? As a proud member of what I assume is the "copyleft" movement (i.e., anyone who isn’t a member of Big Content?), I think I can safely say that we have as little respect for overzealous patent holders as we do for overzealous copyright holders.

Next, Accardo goes after our "bias":

"One feels a little like Jon Stewart watching Fox News when reading a public statement by Lawrence Lessig or a post on Torrentfreak.com. The villain, Big Content, is always trying to take away our freedom and privacy by preventing us from enjoying Lady Gaga’s newest album."

I’m going to let that one ride (inlcuding the assumption that we equate freedom and privacy with Lady Gaga) because he tops it two sentences later:

"Big Content uses its limited power and influence to look out for the little guy’s rights as well."

As an employee of the Disney corporation, I’m amazed he could type this with a straight face, much less allow it to be published unaltered. Even the most maximalist of copyright holders would have trouble with that sentence.

"Limited power?"

If being able to leverage the US government to alter other nations’ copyright laws is "limited," I’d really hate to see what damage Big Content would do if they were bumped up to "adequate." Is having the power to shut down entire domain name servers too "limiting?" How about warrantless searches?

"Look out for the little guy?"

Since when? Since being shamed into coughing up a fractional percentage of the Limewire settlement? Did we get it all wrong and the midnight move from "artist" to "work for hire" actually make things better for your average musician, freeing them from the massive responsibility of owning their own recordings? Is opaque accounting a fringe benefit for artists under contract?

Honestly, Accardo should have ended it there. He can’t possibly top that obtuse declaration. What he does instead is lay the blame for Big Content’s failures at the feet of actual innovators:

"Imagine if the tech giants used their powers of innovation to better detect and control online copyright infringement rather than the bare minimum steps companies such as Google take – omitting an app from the Android market or omitting a few search terms? If they helped take the head out of the bell curve of piracy with some creative innovation, we’d be seeing licenses thrown around to the Googles and the Spotifys of the world."

Yeah! Imagine if! Imagine if the tech companies went ahead and did all your work for you! The only thing they’ve given you so far is every tool imaginable to create, promote and sell your digital product.

You use their innovations daily and yet you still have the audacity to blame them for not stopping piracy. Tech knows piracy can’t be stopped and has moved on. It’s only the holdouts from Big Content that are still thinking they can cut every head off with enough legislative pressure and the hell with the First and Fourth Amendments. Those are inefficiencies from a bygone age. Big Content has too many inefficiencies of its own to worry about.

And as for your precious "licenses"? Who wants ’em? Do you think these tech companies are dying for the chance to pay ever-increasing fees and get double or triple-dipped for every audio or video stream?

If you’re finding tech leery of helping you, perhaps it’s because you never stop taking. You want them to police the internet for you (along with the ISPs), push your products, crawl your news, find you new revenue streams and create new formats. And in exchange they’ll get thrown under the legislative/judicial bus every chance you get. No wonder the techs have turned their back on you. They’ve already seen how you’ve treated your own content creators for decades and now have to attempt to innovate while warily watching you blunder around in search of a soft target.

The innovators of the world owe you nothing.

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Companies: disney

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Comments on “Disney's Anthony Accardo: The Tech Community Owes Content Creators A Living”

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Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Many would gladly pay the content industry the price they ask if that price was fair…read: in line with costs plus a little on the top for profit…like all other products sold in a non-monopolized market. Granted, things have improved. Instead of paying $15 for two good songs and a lot of crap we can pay $3 for the same two songs without the crap.

HothMonster says:

Re: Re:

the first paragraph of that article shows its bias:
“A new stat on copyright infringement released today is shocking: 23.8 percent of all global Internet traffic involves digital theft with BitTorrent accounting for 11.4 percent. “

It assumes all bittorrent traffic is “digital theft” ignoring the, admittedly smaller, legal uses.

Check out the growth in legal real-time entertainment. The market is there to get inf ringers to pay, but the industry wants to get and scream and collect monopoly rents instead of adapting to the markeyplace.


Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Sorry, but the guy has a valid point:

No he doesn’t!

Every penny that so called “content producers” have ever made has been off the back of technology created by us techies.

Without techies “content producers” would still be in the world of aristocratic patronage and busking.

The techies gave – and maybe now they will take away – but like Job you should still say blessed be the name of the techies!

Talk about an ungrateful idiot biting the hand that fed…

Yech says:

Re: Re: Re:

Dude– No one buys an iPod to play with the trippy wheel. They buy it to listen to music. No one buys an iPad to use Safari. Okay, a few might. But they really want the apps. Content sells the hardware. It’s a symbiotic relationship and the hardware guys had better start supporting the content makers or else there won’t be much left but reruns from the P2P networks.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Dude– No one buys an iPod to play with the trippy wheel….

but no one would have invented all the tech that goes into making an iPod just for entertainment purposes. The tech that is entertainment specific is a gnat on the back of the elephant of general purpose tech that supports the rest of the economy.

In any case the fact is that the tech is the enabler, it is the necessary stuff that comes first and it would exist and make money without professional content producers. It isn’t a symbiotic relationship, it’s a parasitic one and content is the parasite.

All that this blog is trying to do is to remind the parasite that trying to kill the host is not a good idea!

Yapster says:

Re: Re: bias

Of course it’s biased. But you don’t think that the hardware guys, the search engines and the pirate sites don’t have their own bias. Every dollar that goes to a content-creator’s pocket is a dollar that won’t go into the pocket of the hardware, search engines or pirate sites. They’re big businesses and they don’t like to share.

Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: bias

I hear ya, Yapster. I can’t even begin to tell you how much money I’ve spent using Google’s services. I would have much rather given it to content creators but at $0.0575 per search result, I’ve gone completely broke.

And don’t get me started on the monthly maintenance fees over at the Pirate Bay.

Kevin (profile) says:

We all know (or should know) that Disney is not the happy go lucky company that it used to be. They sue first and ask questions later. Their name is on a list of supporters for every anti-freedom, piracy, copyright, patent, and trademark piece of crap anti-consumer legislation their is. What this guy said is proof that they don’t get it. Don’t want to get it. And will probably never get it.

Someantimalwareguy says:

Re: Re:

…What this guy said is proof that they don’t get it. Don’t want to get it. And will probably never get it.

Nah – they’re just pissed that the antispyware community found and neutered their DSS Agent spyware back in the day and are looking to get back at us techies for killing off their ability to monetize the children…

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Nevermind the fact that Disney singlehandedly killed Hand-drawn Animation and then blamed it on Pixar. Luckily, they got rid of Eisner, and the new boss came in and restored the industry.

It looks like Anthony might still be part of the old guard that likes blaming things on others instead of looking deeper into what the customer wants and what they aren’t providing. Maybe this guy should get together with John Lasseter and discuss the future, since John seems to have a much better handle on innovation and adapting to the future while honoring the past. Sad too, because I like Disney, even though they are Big Content and act like it.

Jim_G says:

Okay, I am just going to focus on the issue of “Limited power.”

It is common for the members of a community to perceive themselves as very limited in their power while the rest of the world considers them to be extremely powerful. I am not going to try and google the research studies up right now, but for example people who work for the federal government will see themselves as being very limited in what they can do compared to private industry, while the folks in private industry believe that the government holds all the cards.

As for Disney, they are not comparing themselves to the folks here at techdirt. They are looking at the entire internet, and they know they are in trouble. They see how they are competing against a tremendous amount of free content and new providers. They don’t FEEL very powerful, and this is reflected in their language. I am not saying this is accurate, but it shouldn’t be too surprising.

It reminds me of how Obama was elected and more or less told “Congratulations! Now give us your blackberry!”

Steven (profile) says:

Oh, I remember this one!

It had a grasshopper running around singing ‘Oh the world owes me a livin’. He kept laughing at the ant who was working to prepare for winter.

Then winter came and the grasshopper was out in the cold and came knocking on the ants door.

If I remember the ant told the grasshopper to piss off, the grasshopper broke as much stuff as he could before he died in the cold snow, and the ant had to pay for repairs and to get the body removed in the spring.

Ah, good old Disney cartoons. No parallel to this of course.

John Doe says:

Re: Re:

Let me get this straight, Disney not only wants Google to promote their stuff for free on Disney’s YouTube channel and serve it up for free in search results, they want them to police it for free as well. Maybe they could get Disney some coffee and donuts too?

It is just really hard to comprehend the audacity and hypocrisy of big content. The more I read drivel like this, the more I consider becoming a pirate.

BTW, the first post in this thread was mine as well, forgot to sign it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“If they helped take the head out of the bell curve of piracy with some creative innovation, we’d be seeing licenses thrown around to the Googles and the Spotifys of the world.””

From the looks of it, it almost looks like they want others to stop piracy for them and in return they want those others to buy licenses from them.

Raphael (profile) says:

Aww, you didn't quote the best part!

Works of art are a supply, a COGS, a tool in the machine of a technology company or a tech solution.

COGS here refers to ‘cost of goods sold,’ a common acronym used in accounting. It also beautifully and accurately (sublimely, even) describes the way Big Content views artists: they are a cost of goods sold, to be minimized where possible.

Anonymous Coward says:

you missed this gem from his article:
“It would be much easier for content owners to explore innovative suggestions about pricing, distributing free content for promotion, and using distribution technologies such as bitTorrent, if they saw any material steps taken by the tech community to help them, not challenge them, in the copyright arena.”

…..that makes sense….

Anonymous Coward says:

“If they helped take the head out of the bell curve of piracy with some creative innovation, we’d be seeing licenses thrown around to the Googles and the Spotifys of the world.”

So let me get this straight. You want others to stop piracy for you and in exchange you want them to buy licenses from you?

Anonymous Coward says:

Oddly enough, I went to an artist’s website and plunked down my hard earned money for an album of MP3s today.

Sure, I had a choice to CHOOSE MY OWN PRICE (starting at free!), but I still paid. And because I liked the artist and knew they had just quit their “real job” and was giving it a go as a pro musician, I added a few bucks to the “suggested” retail.

It was still less than I’d pay for a comparable album from an established artist.

13 songs, with a bonus MP3 for the digital dl.

You could dl for free, or you could pay. I dl’d for free, then liked it so much I went back and paid.

Funny how that works.

Give me something worth having, price it where I can afford it, don’t be a greedy poophead and I will pay you.

Try to take advantage of me, be greedy and I will ignore your artist and spend my money on nurturing new acts and talents.

Ikarushka (profile) says:

Copyright and creation

I have a problem with the statement that copyright is the tool to protect creators, but I also have a problem with the statement that copyright was set to incentivize creation. Copyright is about money, and when in the world money were incentives to create? It?s the opposite: when artist?s goal is to make money, no matter how hard he tries, he can?t create a significant piece of art, less a masterpiece. If you know an example of monetary inspiration behind any significant artwork, I would like to hear it.

This of course does not mean that artists shouldn’t be compensated, my point is that payment is something that comes along with artist?s efforts as a measure of appreciation, but never as an initial incentive.

You may call me a copyright minimalist.

Huph (user link) says:

I don’t think this guy has much of a point, but I think he does touch on an interesting problem: that tech and content seem to be absolutely diametrically opposed to working together. We’ve basically ended up with a debate where the two loudest arguments are that IP shouldn’t exist vs copyright should be maximized and ironclad. I don’t think either state of affairs is ideal; both seem to come from incredibly naive views of art, culture, commerce, and trying to feed oneself.

So yeah, maybe if the tech sector would stop needlessly butting heads with content (Google claiming they will honor no licensing agreements is not doing anyone any favors) and if big content could figure out an economic plan that didn’t involve going ballistic over every little infringement maybe we could move forward (Aside: How is it that Time Warner delivers cable AND internet, yet streaming television on their own network is better accomplished by a 3rd party (Netflix)? Do you understand how dumb this is? Netflix is better at delivering cable TV along the same network lines the damn cable company is feeding me!).

If you ask me, old media/content needs to go, but also, old tech needs to go. Google, Apple, etc have proven, as far as I’m concerned, that they will never be able to work out a sustainable option that positively serves creators, producers, and consumers. They seem overly obsessed with their own legacy and masturbatory back-patting. We need a new player in the game, but unfortunately the tech sector doesn’t have a stunning record on allowing competition from start-ups.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“We need a new player in the game, but unfortunately the tech sector doesn’t have a stunning record on allowing competition from start-ups.”

First you say, “Google, Apple, etc ” then you imply that competition is not allowed? Competition is allowed, it’s there.

What are they supposed to do, fund the competition too?

Competition is allowed, no one is stopping it. If new competitors wish to enter the market, there are no laws stopping them.

Where competition isn’t allowed, thanks to big corporate efforts, are on things like the ability to use broadcasting spectra, the ability for competitors to use existing cableco infrastructure (or to build new infrastructure) to offer more diverse programming and opinions, the ability for independent performers to perform at restaurants and other venues because those venues would get faced with big collection society fines (or expensive lawsuit threats) under the pretext that someone might infringe, the ability for taxi cab competitors to open up competing taxi cab services, etc… Those, and many many others, are the sectors that competition isn’t allowed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Competition is allowed, no one is stopping it.”

There is quite a bit of patent lawsuits that claim otherwise but yes technically no laws prevent competition, there are just a few to stifle it. I definitely would say industry leaders, no matter the industry, do their best to squash on new innovate competitors as quickly as possible.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

or wonderful examples like this:


(full disclosure I didn’t read this article, not sure where i read about it, techdirt?, but I am off work and need to head to my train so I cant look into it further. but the story, even if this article isnt good, is a wonderful example of big business using their clout to destroy competition and corner a market

The Buzz Saw (profile) says:

Innovation to enforce copyright, eh?

I’m curious. As a software engineer myself, exactly how is the tech community to come up with an algorithmic (excuse me… “innovative”) mechanism to detect a license/copyright? For one thing, the “tech community” has been trying that for years. DRM anyone?

I make it a point to sell my talent, not my output. My output can be copied and reused eternally, and that is a desirable trait! My ability to create such useful output is obviously a scarce good, and I find myself able to sell it accordingly. ๐Ÿ™‚

The reason the “tech community” (such a ridiculous generalization of a term) refuses to support Big Content in its endeavor to lock down content is that the end result would be a ridiculous sense of entitlement.

If Big Content had its way…

A TV would refuse to function, because it detects too many viewers.

A camera would not shoot, because it would sense a “no cameras” signal in the area.

An application would fail to launch, because the keyboard detected fingerprints other than those of the original licensee.

A Blu-ray would not start, because it senses you exceeded its viewing quota, and you need to go buy the movie again.

A song would not play, because the attached speakers are too awesome, and you are not licensed to hear so much bass.

A book would erase its words, because its GPS would detect that it is being read in a country where the book is not released yet.

Yeah, I am very comfortable over here NOT on your side, Big Content.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Innovation to enforce copyright, eh?

Maybe Mrs. Cleo can help with the psychic program. Mrs. Cleo can offer the algorithmic psychic intuition, while the software engineer can write the code. Or maybe we can hire a psychic software engineer, one with a background in law for bonus points.

ckoning (profile) says:

Re: Innovation to enforce copyright, eh?

It should be noted that Google already gave a pretty good try at this with it’s current automatic system for content identification. It’s about as complicated and sophisticated a technical protection measure as can be devised by the best in the field. Is that not enough for you Mr. Accardo? And here I am thinking that such a system is a ridiculous appeasement to organizations like Disney who can’t be bothered to use the legal and technical tools already at their disposal…

Ed C. says:

Let me see if I got that straight...

Just because Disney flops a few million down on a movie, they believe that the world owes them sports cars, mansions and yachts, while getting free and absolute protection over the copyrights, for all of eternity? Right…and what is it that we get out of this? Oh, that’s right, we get the benefit of paying them for the same movie over and over again…for all of eternity! Maybe if it were not for the cost of your monopolist entitlements upon society, more people would be willing to pay for your works. Seriously, no one other than you copyright monopolist get such a sweet deal, yet none have ever been, or ever shall be, creative enough to deserve such a debt of endless gratitude–not The Beatles, or Shakespeare, or even Walt Disney.

The Buzz Saw (profile) says:

Re: Let me see if I got that straight...

But that’s how anti-tech creative people operate: they feel each of their creations is some magical gift to the world. However, they haven’t stopped to think about how hosed they would be if they had to pay royalties for each use of paper, the pencil, the English language, etc. on through every inch of tech that they use to create.

Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile) says:


Right on. Your check is in the mail.

By “mail,” I mean the Netflix envelope I stuffed it in to remind me to put your check in the mail whenever I decide to return this DVD I’ve rented for about 90 days at this point.

But if I do that, they’ll just send me another DVD and I’ll put that DVD up by my player and look at it every so often and think that I should really get around to watching that at some point.

And then I’ll fire up their streaming service and the weeks kind of turn into months and sooner or later, I blow the dust off the DVD and promise myself I’ll watch it within the next two weeks (promise!) and then later I remember I still have it and another month has gone by and it hardly seems worth it to relocate the envelope and mosey down to the post office, just to start the vicious circle all over again.

Long story short: your check will be in the mail eventually. Very eventually.

Joseph Kranak (profile) says:

The Tech Giants do help stop piracy

“Imagine if the tech giants used their powers of innovation to better detect and control online copyright infringement rather than the bare minimum steps”

This is silly because tech companies have provided content suppliers with many tools to stop piracy, it’s just that people find ways to around them. If there’s someone at Google that could think of a way to stop all piracy, then there’s someone out there who figure out a way around it. Just look at the history of it. They introduced DVDs with encryption to prevent copying, and then someone cracked it. They introduced DRM, and people found out ways to crack it; they have locks on PDfs and those are easily cracked. They’ve got all types of copy-protection on software, and people find ways around them. Apple even went so far as to craft the OS for its iPhones so that you couldn’t transfer any files except through iTunes and couldn’t install any apps except through their App Store, which would completely prevent piracy, if someone hadn’t figured out ways to jailbreak the iphone.

And, of course, the more crack-proof you make your anti-piracy measures, the more it has to inconvenience users. Just think of how much a pain DRM is, and it’s not even uncrackable.

Yapster says:

Innovation? Get a clue Mike

I’m sorry but the semi-conductor industry has been milking Moore’s law forever. The transistors are pretty much the same things that were invented forever ago. They just make the factories cleaner and the lines sharper. Then everything gets smaller and they do it again. Innovation? Come on. It’s just engineering. I admire their hard work and love their product, but I don’t think it’s really innovative.

The operating systems? Windows is pretty much the same, semi-secure product that it’s been since 3.1. Heck, the same software usually runs because the APIs are only marginally better. They’ve fixed a few of the security holes but that’s more patching than innovation. I still admire their diligence and love their product, but I don’t think it’s innovative. After Doug what’s-his-name invented the mouse, there hasn’t been much innovation, just copying. Ask Steve Jobs.

So yeah, the movie industry makes the same plots again and again, but so do the hardware companies. Heck, even the Macs run on x86 now just like the first Altairs.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Innovation? Get a clue Mike

‘m sorry but the semi-conductor industry has been milking Moore’s law forever. The transistors are pretty much the same things that were invented forever ago. They just make the factories cleaner and the lines sharper. Then everything gets smaller and they do it again.

Read a few tech papers about what is actually required to do this and you will realize that is isn’t as simple as you pretend.

Let me quote a typical abstract at you:
In the present work, a high aspect ratio process (HARP) using a new O3/TEOS based sub atmospheric chemical vapor deposition process was implemented as STI gapfill in sub-65-nm CMOS. Good gapfill performance up to aspect ratios greater than 10:1 was demonstrated. Since the HARP process does not attack the STI liner as compared to HDP, a variety of different STI liners can be implemented. By comparing HARP with HDP, the geometry dependence of nand p-FET performance due to STI stress is discussed

See – it’s not just simple shrinkage.

VMax says:

Since no one else is willing

Mr. Accardo,
I publicly and whole-heartedly apologize for not helping the internet to be your source of revenue. Back in the day, while we were working out ways of using this new tech, I was obsessed with:
1) Sharing knowledge on Optical Character Recognition
2) Creating an Ascii based Pac-man with semi-intelligence for the ghosts
3) Figuring ways to spread the marvelous talents of Ms. Annie Sprinkles in 8-bit rendering.
I’m very sorry I wasn’t thinking of you and Disney. (Then again, I don’t think you’d support Ms. Sprinkles’ talents)

I sincerely apologize,
Max, the Vaguely Disreputable.

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