Welcome to Jim Hill Media - Entertainment News : Theme Parks Movies Television

... Unless -- of course -- they service a need

Jim Hill

Jim's musings on the history of and rumors about movies, TV shows, books and theme parks including Disneyland, Walt Disney World. Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood.

... Unless -- of course -- they service a need

Rate This
  • Comments 0
You can include all the links to the U.S. Copyright Office that you'd like, Roger. But the fact of the matter is -- at the very top of your article -- you actually make my argument for me.

You talked about how disappointed you were with Disneyland's 50th anniversary DVD. How the Walt Disney Company didn't really seem to care about what fans of the "Happiest Place on Earth" might want to see. Which is why they just threw together a souvenir disc that was made up mostly of old file footage. Stuff that had been shot months -- if not years -- before the "Happiest Homecoming" celebration actually got underway.

Now contrast that with a fan-produced Disneyland 50th anniversary DVD that we currently promote here on JHM. Which takes you into the Anaheim theme park the weekend after the Anaheim theme park's golden anniversary celebration officially got underway. Which puts you in Town Square just as a twilight performance of the "Parade of Dreams" is stepping off. Giving you full coverage of Disneyland's 50th anniversary parade from beginning to end.

Which is admittedly pretty cool all by itself. But then this disc tops that recording by bringing you an entire performance of the "Remember ... Dreams Come True" fireworks show. From multiple angles, no less!

Add to that a recording of DCA's "Block Party Bash" as well as a photo safari of Disneyland documenting

where all the 50th anniversary's "Hidden Mickeys" are stashed ... And this is the DVD that every guest who visits the Anaheim theme park during its golden anniversary would actually want to own. Not that cut-and-paste job that's currently on sale at the Emporium.

You see, the way I personally view these unauthorized DVDs is not that the people who are producing these discs are ripping off the Mouse. But -- rather -- that they're tiny pin pricks in the butt of the behemoth that is now the Walt Disney Company. Painful reminders that -- if the Disney corporation really wanted to -- it could do a much better job of servicing its fan base.

This is also why I have been supportive of the "Extinct Attractions Club." I mean, here's the Walt Disney Company, which always makes such a big deal about how the corporation supposedly values its rich history & heritage. And yet who's out there actually documenting this " ... rich history & heritage"? Not the Mouse. But -- rather -- this little outside production company. That's put together this truly terrific series of DVDs about Disney theme park attractions. Which feature hour after hour of conversations with Disney Legends, as they reveal how these rides & shows actually came together.

These stories would have never ever been documented if it hadn't been for the folks at the Extinct Attractions Club. And yet -- just because they sometimes make use of copywritten material (This is the same copywritten material -- it should be pointed out -- that, in most cases, the Walt Disney Company doesn't consider to be of much value. Which is why the Mouse doesn't make it available on video & DVD itself) -- Roger says that we should all turn up our nose up at stuff like this. Out of "respect."

I don't think so.

To be honest, I think that it's important that DVDs like this get out there. Because they spur the Walt Disney Company along. They make this corporate giant realize that there's material out there that people still want, things that the hardcore Disneyana fans would actually pay to see and hear ... IF Disney would make this material available for purchase.

Case in point: Randy Thornton's "Musical History of Disneyland." For years now, Disneyana fans have been actively trading soundtracks of various Disney rides, shows & attractions. Why for? Because -- to be honest -- the Walt Disney Company has only made a halfhearted effort to get this material out there. Either through souvenir theme park recordings that featured far too few new tracks and/or through over-priced do-it-yourself systems like those late, lamented "Disneyland Forever" machines.

But Thornton knew that -- just because this trading of Disney theme park soundtrack tracks had remained so active for so long now -- that there had to be a market for these recordings out there. That a properly produced, highly professional set of CDs that featured Disney theme park soundtracks would clean up. IF his bosses at Disney actually had the guts to put such a thing into production.

So Randy wheedled, begged, poked, prodded. Doing everything he could to convince the powers-that-be at the Walt Disney Company that this sort of recording really would sell well. And eventually (thanks to Thornton's constant campaigning), Disney very begrudgedly allowed 5000 sets of his six-disc "Musical History of Disneyland" set to be put into production.

So what happens? In the first 12 hours that "A Musical History of Disneyland" was available for purchase on the DisneyDirect website, 2000 of the 5000 sets were sold. Demand for this $125 item was that high. And it has remained high. Which is why Disney quickly had to produce a second run of this six CD set.

And all of that happen because Randy Thornton was able to prove to his bosses at Disney that there really was a market out there for this sort of recording. And how'd he do that? By pointing out the public's continuing interest in those bootleg versions of the Disney theme park soundtracks that were available.

So -- yes -- if you want to adher to the letter of the law, these DVDs & audio recordings are illegal. They do infringe of the copyrights of the Walt Disney Company.

But -- that said -- do I then want Disney's lawyers to descend, sending out cease-and-desist letters in all directions? So that this trickle of fan-created recordings eventually dries up?

Hell no.

Me personally, my hope is that the people who make these DVDs continue to make more. To document those things that the Walt Disney Company is either too lazy and/or too stupid to document for itself.

Okay. Maybe the above paragraph was kind of harsh. So how's about I find a kinder, gentler way to say pretty much the same thing?

Something like: "Often the Walt Disney Company doesn't recognize the inherent profit-making potential of projects like these. Which is why the Disney corporation consistently passes up the opportunity to create DVDs and CDs that might appeal to this audience segment."

There. Was that polite enough for you?

Anyway ... As I said earlier, I want the fans who produce these things to continue to do so. To document those parades & shows that not all of us get to see. To record the stories of those Disney Legends who are rapidly aging and are increasingly poor health. So that this material doesn't then slip through the cracks. All because some bean counter at the Mouse House said: "There's no real money to be made off of a project like that. So why should I put a recording like that into production?"

Oh. And there's one other reason why I feel that the people who actually produce these "bootleg" recordings provide a great service to the Disneyana community: "Song of the South."

Do you want to know the real reason that Mouse House managers are finally softening their position on this somewhat controversial 1946 release? Not because they've suddenly realized that this Walt Disney Productions picture is a great unreleased classic (Or even a particularly good film). But -- rather -- because bootleg "Song of the South" DVDs have continued to turn up on eBay.

I kid you not, folks. It was this that finally convinced Disney execs that there's a potentially huge market out there for a legitimate DVD of this movie. The lengths that people would go to (I.E. Bidding on an unauthorized copy of the Japanese version of this film) in order to get their hands on "Song of the South."

So next year, when you're getting ready to pop the authorized version of "Song of the South" into your DVD player, please remember to pause for a moment and thank the bootleggers who actually made this disc possible. For it was only through their illegal efforts that the Walt Disney Company officials finally  came around to thinking that: "Hey, maybe there really is some money to be made off of producing a legitimate DVD of this motion picture."

That -- I guess -- is what my position on this issue ultimately boils down to: If these somewhat illegal recordings eventually force the Mouse to get off his over-sized  butt and produce the sorts of DVDs and CDs that Disneyana fans really want to own ... Then I say: We all win. The people who'd actually buy these recordings, the Walt Disney Company as well as the fans who first created the DVDs & CDs that eventually spurred Mickey to release official authorized versions of all these parades, shows, rides and films.

Or is that perhaps too simplistic an argument for some of you folks? What are your thoughts regarding the Walt Disney Company and copyright? Particularly when it comes to these fan-produced theme park recordings?




Blog - Post Feedback Form
Your comment has been posted.   Close
Thank you, your comment requires moderation so it may take a while to appear.   Close
Leave a Comment
  • * Please enter your name
  • * Please enter a comment
  • Post