As War Rages On In Ukraine, Don’t Forget The Real Victims: Disney’s Profits

from the the-real-shame-here-is-what-this-means-for-mickey dept

Like many of you, I’m sure, I’ve spent the past week following the news of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and feeling mostly helpless about such tragic events. On the other hand, Disney wants you to remember the real tragedy happening here: how this invasion might negatively impact its profits. As Jamie Love points out on Twitter, Disney Music Group’s Peter Jansson sent an email to a public mailing list to highlight what really matters here: the lack of royalties that will be coming from Russia and Ukraine.

If you’re unable to see that, it’s a screenshot of an email to a mailing list that says:

As the disaster between Russia and Ukraine escalates, I wanted to give a heads up to all my fellow Music Publishers on the list (and this probably extends to all labels as well). Now that the U.S. and the U.E. have implemented SWIFT banking sanctions against these two countries… don’t expect to see any monies coming from the Russian society (RAO) or the Ukrainian society (UACRR) any time soon in the foreseeable future, including reciprocal payments to U.S. PROs.

This is a big blow for us at Disney, as this is most apparent with ENCANTO, as all the songs from the movie have been translated and released in Russian and Ukranian, and we have been noticing quite a lot of UGC uploads on YouTube in both these languages given the extreme popularity of these songs.

We have seen growing revenues from both Russia and Ukraine over the past two years, but this may well eradicate all of this growth. We hope that UACRR will still exist after the outcome of this, as they have been a good partner for us in the past several years.

There’s so much to comment on here, starting with just the general insensitivity of this. Yes, obviously, any company that does business in the region should be looking at the overall impact of the invasion on its own books, but putting it out on a mailing list in such stark terms just looks incredibly insensitive at this moment.  Also, “we hope that the Ukrainian collection society will still exist” rather than “we hope Ukraine still exists” seems worth highlighting.

Second, as Jamie also notes, this comes just weeks after the big labels lobbying group, IFPI told the US government that Ukraine (and Russia) were a haven for piracy and should be kept on the ridiculous USTR’s Special 301 list. In that filing, they repeatedly trash Ukraine and insist that it’s nearly impossible for “the copyright industries” to make any money there. This seems to be a lie, given Peter’s comments above.

Third, it shouldn’t go without commenting that here we have Disney excited about user generated content uploads after a decade or two of complaining about how they were destroying the music industry. I am reminded, not for the first time, how just a few years after Jack Valenti compared the VCR to “the Boston Strangler” that Hollywood was making more money from home movies than the box office. The whole copyright industry spent years complaining about UGC uploads “killing” their industry, and yet, here we are.

Fourth, it was just a few months ago that Radiolab had an excellent episode about how piracy helped spread freedom in oppressed countries, and it sure feels like in today’s world, Disney and the like would prefer oppression and profits to supporting freedom.

Anyway, as you think of the struggle of the people of Ukraine this week, don’t forget to share some sympathy for the Mouse’s “big blow” to its profits.

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Companies: disney

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Comments on “As War Rages On In Ukraine, Don’t Forget The Real Victims: Disney’s Profits”

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This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

Ah Disney priorities...

‘Hey there’s a war going on, our profits are going to be great!’ is a disgusting piece of profiteering on human suffering but only slightly less repulsive than that is ‘Hey there’s a war going on, our profits might take a dip what with all the ‘dead people don’t buy things’ fact.’

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Second thought” needs to sometimes be taken with a few grains of sand, but he’s generally on spot with the actual facts and the logic.

Generally speaking leftism has always been grade A when it comes to analysis but tends to leave a lot of lifting to wishful thinking when it comes to actual solutions. The legacy of Karl Marx, I suppose.

That capitalism and freedom are in direct conflict is a no-brainer however. Information control is an abomination no matter who gets to decide which information is to be controlled.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Accountants

If you now ask “how is that a plus?” you don’t have the soul of an accountant. Assuming such a thing exists.

You’re thinking of executives. Accountants just keep track of the money, they’re not in charge of increasing profits. Blaming the accountants would be like blaming inventory clerks for profit-seeking decisions by a grocery store.

settsu (profile) says:

Hardly surprising

C’mon, are we really going to put on the “feigned rage at entirely predictable behavior” act??

Y’all are gonna forget all about this tomorrow as you stream Wall-E for the 700th time on Disney+.

Just like you’re going to order your favorite pens and underwear off Amazon the same day someone’s family member will die alone of cancer because their warehouse-working adult child couldn’t afford to take the week off AND leave early every day to pick up their kid from school.

These are wholly expected, if not perfectly designed, outcomes. (How about we do American oligarchs after the Russian ones?)

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Humanity… was a mistake.
But this thinking highlights the same magical thinking Congress has that everything is perfectly okay as we all burn.

They get very upset when we call them unfeeling monsters but a slow down in “donations” caused by war, suffering, misery is a problem… not the death.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Rico R. (profile) says:

Copyright might as well be a cult at this point. The sky is literally falling in Ukraine, and Disney’s #1 concern over there is… a lack of royalties from the area! People are dying. War is raging in Ukraine because of the whim of a Russian dictator. And Disney doesn’t want more sanctions on Russia because it hurts their bottom line? Well, what do you expect when the creators of feature films based on fairy tales have something in common with counterfeit unicorn fighting lawyers from a few years ago?

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:


“Copyright might as well be a cult at this point.”

It always was. The spiritual predecessor of copyright was basically medieval church heresy law where only the chosen few paying their dues were allowed to spread the information in certain books.

In the modern interpretation the mechanism is the same – gatekeepers using information control to leverage power and wealth.

Copyright can’t be salvaged. There are no net benefits to information control no matter who holds the rights. Just dismantle it completely and place the authors’s right to stand as origin of a work and commercialize it under a subsection of trademark law instead. So much bullshit simply wouldn’t happen, including shit like in the OP.

Anonymous Coward says:


It is already a cult when it comes with moral psychology like “copying is theft”, dogmatic/faith-thinking like “copyright’s good and necessary for society”, fantasy-thinking like pretending that ideas are actual property, and sacred cows like corporate profits. It worships the Almighty Dollar like Disney does.

privacy in america is an illusion (profile) says:

war is for war mongers

for those that already know americas propaganda machine is in full swing america is good every one else bad all lies from hell of course
now the picture putin as a trapped rat i tell you as many soldiers have learned the hard way yes very hard is that sociopaths are never trapped putin is not in this to win he is in it for the hate war creates winning is unimportant only the fight is important only american fools will view this war as a football game taking their side as they see fit remember the non humans amongst have no problem with both switching sides or losing on purpose of course remember the war must go on and it will i promise

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