Disney's Licensing Dogs Charge Underserved School District A Third Of Fundraiser Money For Playing 'Lion King' DVD
from the robbing-them-twice dept
When it comes to posts about copyright issues, I cannot say for certain that Disney is the most frequent commonality in those posts, but it just… feels like it’s probably true. After all, Disney has played such a heavy role in making copyright the over-extended, profit-driven, legal-cudgel bastardization of what copyright law was originally meant to be. Mickey Mouse himself is cited as the reason for copyright extensions in the past, and the company has been notorious in its zealous jealousy in protecting its copyrights.
But allowing your licensing partners to charge a school district for a third of the funds from a school fundraiser just because a parent brought a Lion King DVD to keep the kids happy during the event? That’s a bit much, even for Disney.
When an elementary school in Berkeley, California, hosted a “parent’s night out” fundraiser, they didn’t think playing the 2019 remake of “The Lion King” would do anything besides keep the kids happy. That was until Emerson Elementary School received an email from a licensing company Thursday — more than two months after the event — saying they had to pay $250 for illegally screening the movie.
“One of the dads bought the movie at Best Buy,” PTA president David Rose told CNN. “He owned it. We literally had no idea we were breaking any rules.”
It’s something we talk about all the time. Because of the twisted pretzel that copyright laws have become, it is quite possible for well-meaning folks to infringe upon copyright without having any idea that they’re doing so. That cannot possibly be what the framers of copyright law had in mind when they created it. Movie Licensing USA, Disney’s partner for managing licensing agreements, extracted $250 from the school’s $800 fundraiser for showing the movie to kids, and informed the school that they would have to pay the same amount for any future showings.
The parents and district paid, but weren’t happy about it. Because the universe is not without a sense of irony, part of the need for the fundraiser is, according to the district, the sweetheart real estate deal Disney got from California for the property it owns.
Berkeley City Council member Lori Droste, who is also a parent at Emerson Elementary, believes Disney is being unfair.
“There was an initiative passed in 1979 called Proposition 13 which casts the property tax on all land, and so Disney’s property tax rates are at 1978 values which translates into millions upon millions of dollars a year that Disney is not paying,” Droste told CNN.
“Because of that, our schools are now extremely underfunded,” she added. “We went from the ’70s being among the top education systems in the US to one of the lowest.”
So, to summarize, Disney benefits from a government deal and avoids paying taxes, which fund school districts, and then sent the licensing police to the doors of a fundraiser for one of those school districts to take $250 out of the coffers. At this point, it’s almost like they’re trying to be one of their movie villains.