The Rights of Capitalism

posted in: Blog | 4

I’ve lived long enough to fully understand that whenever there is a question regarding why there is a lack of anything in this world, money tends to be the answer. Specifically, today, I am talking about the media industry. SPOILER ALERT: I get a tad passionate and impatient while discussing this subject, so yeah, you’ve been warned. This is officially a rant!

I was looking into re-visiting part of my childhood (I watched a LOT of animated programming) on youtube. After watching the new “Hobbit” movie in theaters, I wanted to compare it to the 1977 Rankin/Bass animated film. What little I found of it on youtube was either the tiniest of segments or was removed by Warner Bros. due to who knows why. What are you worried about Warner Bros.? Someone might watch a film made in 1977 and not want to pay money to go see your live-action 3D spectacular? Why not release the animated film with “movie money” to go see the new film? Honestly, I’m aware this may not be possible but I ask you, what logical reason could there be?

The VHS and original DVD copy (the second of which had sound effects removed for whatever reason) are no longer in print and can only be found on auction sites. Why then, didn’t Warner Bros. realize the potential in RE-releasing this animated classic in time with the new movie? Why not also re-release the original soundtrack (which is wonderful, I might add)…something that never had a chance to go to CD and is only on vinyl. I could go on and on with other films and likewise video games, but the point is that I’m sure it has to do with money. Sure there are risks involved, but at least attempt a limited print run, or advertise for it on-line as a digital download…something! ANYTHING!

Is that such a foreign concept?

For years I would wonder why certain movies, television shows and soundtracks weren’t more readily available for purchase after they were no longer current. I would later discover that this was usually due to a rights issue. Company ‘A’ created the intellectual property and Company ‘B’ distributed it and therefore the product would get held up in some legal battle often resulting in a stalemate.

Yet what I still don’t understand is, why on earth would a company hold on to the rights for a property that has long since been forgotten and is not profiting anyone? If something goes out of print and is no longer available (other than on auction websites and garage sales) then what is the harm in letting someone else re-print said item?

The only answer I can think of is some sort of hissy-fit being thrown along the lines of “If WE can’t make any money off of this property, THEN NOBODY CAN!!” Even so, I find it hard to imagine that people would rather not make ANY profit than to let someone else have a piece of the money-pie. It can’t be that difficult to agree on percentages, can it?

It seems we’ve gotten so creative and clever with rights management so that no one is taken advantage of, that these companies forget there is money to be made and simply isn’t. In short, just make the stuff available and get what you can from it because the alternatives are piracy and bitter fans. Trust me, those last two options are guaranteed not to make money.

4 Responses

  1. Mike C
    | Reply

    Unfortunately, anything that came before the “digital age” seems to be getting completely lost or forgotten about. I’ve tried to find quite a handful of things from my childhood as well that just doesn’t exist anymore (like the TMNT “Coming Out Of Their Shells” on CD or something higher quality than cassette tape and a few others). Sadly, I fear that unless there’s massive demand or resurfacing for it, this will all be left to be forgotten. In the times we have with mostly-mediocre original material and usually-bad sequels, companies really need to start dipping into their “vaults” (so to speak) to bring back some of the classics, in my opinion.

    • Phil M.
      | Reply

      Good call on the “vault” idea, Mike. As much as the neverending stream of re-releases from Disney irritate me, I have to admit they seem to respect their archives better than probably any company.

      You’re right about the quality of older things…I guess they just don’t make ‘em like they used to.

  2. Andy "Shaggy" Korty
    | Reply

    Right On Phil!
    And I’m right there with you. It is ridiculously hard to find some of the stuff from our childhood. Stuff that I am willing to pay for if it is in a contemporary form (ei – blueray, mp3, etc). It was special to me as a kid and I want to show my kids something I got excited about when I was their age.
    If I might share a story. My dad used to get me up RIDICULOUSLY early just so that we could watch Rocky and Bullwinkle, George of the Jungle, and Super Chicken. I watch Rocky and Bullwinkle now with my kids and they love it! I wish I could find Super Chicken and watch it with them but alas . . .
    And Mike C, I have the Coming Out of Their Shells mp3 files if you would like to borrow them. They are great quality.

    • Mike C
      | Reply

      I did find some decent quality mp3s out there on the internet that were remastered from the cassettes (I think), but they’re still only V0 or V2 MP3. Listenable, but not perfect. What I really want, is a remastered (from original source) full-quality CD with packaging made for a CD release. (Also not the tour, the actual album.) Not sure if this even exists anymore, but I’m glad the internet has at least what little I can find from my childhood on occasion.

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