The Business of Art – Star Wars Toys Continued AGAIN

Please excuse my gratuitous quoting of techdirt and Arstechnica, but!!!

I’m talking about the business aspects of art here, they perfectly fill y’all in on what happened…

On Tuesday, a Star Wars Action News staffer saw something he shouldn’t have—and bought it. A 3 3/4″ action figure of “Rey,” a female character from The Force Awakens, was on display in a Walmart in Iowa, apparently earlier than it should have been. The staff member bought it for $6.94 plus tax, no questions asked. The following day, he posted pictures of the Rey figure on Star Wars Action News’ Facebook page.

…..”A friend texted my husband saying, hey, are you getting sued?” said Carvalho in an interview with Ars. The image from the Facebook post was gone. “We looked and noticed we’d gotten a notice from Facebook saying our image violated copyright. It was confusing because our staff member, Justin, he took the photo.”



Now, onto techdirt’s Timothy Geigner…

So, let’s recap. Hasbro made a toy that was released by a Walmart and bought legally by a fan, who uploaded a photo of the toy. Disney/Lucasfilm, which does not have a copyright on that photo, is having a third party, Irdeto, send out DMCA notices for the uploading of a picture, or a retweeting/reposting of the picture, which is not copyright infringement. And this gross abuse of the DMCA process is being done simply to stifle the speech of Star Wars fans and save them from a spoiler that apparently is coming from the depiction of this toy.

If that isn’t the kind of DMCA abuse that results in some kind of punishment, nothing is.



So, it seems somebody accidentally put the Star Wars figures on the shelves before they were supposed to. It happens right.

Now somebody got a hold of this Star Wars figure and posted a picture out of surprise that it was simply on the shelf. It seemed odd to them, so they took a picture and shared it with people. Because it’s odd.

It all makes sense so far, yeah?

Well, now here’s where it stops making sense.

It seems Disney and such (note – not Hasbro who is one of the makers of Star Wars toys) got upset and fired off DMCA’s left and right… because they want to control how the upcoming Star Wars films appear in the public eye. My bet is that they felt that this figure could give away too much of the plot line and ruin the mystique of the film. I mean, that’s why they time the release of toys like this to begin with. Some of the toys are specific to the plot line you know… like Lego sets of specific scenes or figures in clothing or armor that they put on during a specific scene.

Here’s the problem… Disney’s obsession with control is actually hurting some of their most loyal and ardent fans.

By sending DMCA’s to Star Wars Action News over the photo, they isolate an entire community that supports the Star Wars universe of art. In essence, they’re trying to silence their own free marketing.

While, Disney & company may very well be within their rights to send DMCA notices to people… actually doing so may be bad business.

Sending those DMCA notices isolates people, it stifles speech, it makes people uneasy about sharing the art that Disney wants people to consume. Behaving like this hurts Disney… it destroys the depth that people build as they engage with art. That depth is part of what people love so much about things like Star Wars. That depth gives people a sense of community, of an unending world they get to participate in, it really just makes the world deeper… better.

So, the question is what hurts Disney more… just letting the picture of the action figure blaze across the internet and in the process get fans excited and engaged or send DMCA notices to try to stop the picture in the hope of controlling the inevitable excitement that will come with the release of the toys and movie next week?


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The Business of Art – Star Wars Toys Continued AGAIN by Jordan Wunderlich is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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