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The Almighty Buck United States News Politics Technology Your Rights Online

Disney Asking Employees To Help Fund Copyright Lobbying (arstechnica.com) 172

NormalVisual writes: Disney is now asking its employees to chip in to promote the company's copyright agenda via the company's political action committee, DisneyPAC. CEO Bob Iger has sent a letter to the company's employees lauding the company's success with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement and the recent Supreme Court decision regarding the video service Aereo -- an Internet service claiming the right to retransmit [Disney's] broadcast signals without paying copyright or retransmission consent fees. Iger also expresses the company's hope that DisneyPAC will be able to influence Congress in regards to lowering corporate tax rates. Not surprisingly, the company refuses to comment on the initiative.
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Disney Asking Employees To Help Fund Copyright Lobbying

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 28, 2016 @11:37AM (#51603303)

    get the new foreign workers to pay for it all as part of their contracts.

    why on earth would employees want to fund this? it's a company issue, not an employee issue

  • For an employer to tell their employees to do or take a political stance?

    • by srmalloy ( 263556 ) on Sunday February 28, 2016 @11:45AM (#51603345) Homepage

      From TFA:

      US corporations are allowed to solicit political contributions as long as donations aren't coerced. The relevant law [cornell.edu] bars any "threat of a detrimental job action, the threat of any other financial reprisal, or the threat of force" when asking for donations.

      Also from TFA, the letter explicitly states "Your contribution is important to all of us, but I want to emphasize that all contributions are voluntary and have no impact on your job status, performance review, compensation, or employment." and "Any amount given or the decision not to give will not advantage or disadvantage you." How much of that is going to be reflected in practice -- Disney using other 'justifications' for giving a worker crappier shifts, keep them from receiving performance awards, etc. -- to create a de facto but not de jure requirement to contribute has yet to be seen

      • by GNious ( 953874 ) on Sunday February 28, 2016 @12:18PM (#51603489)

        From TFA:

        US corporations are allowed to solicit political contributions as long as donations aren't coerced. The relevant law [cornell.edu] bars any "threat of a detrimental job action, the threat of any other financial reprisal, or the threat of force" when asking for donations.

        My former employer, as US company, had us attend an event with customers, where we would be sitting at tables 8 people mixed employees and customers, and there would be a collection going around for a charity.
        When I declined to contribute, things got pretty chilly at the table; people were in shock that I wasn't donating my private earnings towards a charity in order to make my employer look good.

        Yeah, it wasn't political, and it wasn't direct threats, but I have never felt as shitty about a job as I did right there and then ... it was also the moment I realized I loathed that particular employer.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 28, 2016 @12:52PM (#51603671)

          When I worked for NCR, HR would go around with paycheck deduction forms to contribute to the United Way - in the name of NCR.

          See, the CEO gets the credit for the donations and it boosts his reputation and networking. The United Way is just one big networking system for the CEOs.

          I would throw the form into the trash.

          Never give money to charities - especially national or international charities. The biggest bang for your buck is to help someone in need close to you. I would drive folks to doctors who couldn't drive themselves. And being a professional, taking time out from your schedule is a much larger sacrifice than writing a check.

          I also learned how the "other half" lives and how lucky I am and grateful for all the gifts and opportunities that were handed to me. Sure I work hard, but so does everyone. But my hard work means more because I was born lucky enough to have the talents and opportunities to work in a relatively lucrative career.

          • Same here. Different company, same charity. That time of year always made me uncomfortable working there.

          • When I worked for NCR, HR would go around with paycheck deduction forms to contribute to the United Way - in the name of NCR.

            Disney does exactly the same thing with the United Way. It was usually the union shop stewards at Disney World that went around trying to guilt everyone into donating. I wouldn't even accept the forms. Sure, you get the stinkeye for it, but I really didn't care.
            • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

              When I worked for NCR, HR would go around with paycheck deduction forms to contribute to the United Way - in the name of NCR. Disney does exactly the same thing with the United Way. It was usually the union shop stewards at Disney World that went around trying to guilt everyone into donating. I wouldn't even accept the forms. Sure, you get the stinkeye for it, but I really didn't care.

              Thanks for the warning, personally never encountered the practise. It occurred to me from reading your comments that if I ever did, I would take the form and donate 10 cents. Then it would be their issue because only a hypocrite would take issue with how much you donate.

            • I signed up, because it was a convenient way to donate. I didn't and don't see the problem with passing out the forms, and I have led workplace United Way campaigns (I boosted contributions considerably by strategic use of doughnuts), but guilting people into donating is something I'd never do or accept.

          • And being a professional, taking time out from your schedule is a much larger sacrifice than writing a check.

            Just so long as you remember that the point of charity is to help others, not to make a sacrifice. That said, direct personal involvement can be far more satisfying, which is vital for continued charity.

            • Yeah. I picked out a favorite charity, and currently am giving them significant amounts of money. When I retire, I'm going to switch to volunteer work. Right now, the time would be a greater sacrifice, and I'd rather do good at minimum sacrifice to myself. If I feel the need to sacrifice more, I can just up my commitment.

          • by Quirkz ( 1206400 )

            My office at least offers us a perk: give 12 hours of income and get 1 day of vacation. Technically that's still a net loss, but I've always felt that the vacation day is worth more than the literal cash. The apparent percent of donations that go through United Way and actually make it to people in need also makes me a little uneasy, but it's the only deal the office offers.

        • Frankly I find the notion of forced public donation vile. Remember that ridiculous Ice Bucket Challenge. When a partnering company tried to guilt our staff into doing it, we just told them to ignore the email.

        • by creimer ( 824291 )

          When I declined to contribute, things got pretty chilly at the table; people were in shock that I wasn't donating my private earnings towards a charity in order to make my employer look good.

          I always had that problem when a parent is hustling Girl Scout cookies to inflate their daughter's sales numbers.

        • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

          My former employer, as US company, had us attend an event with customers, where we would be sitting at tables 8 people mixed employees and customers, and there would be a collection going around for a charity.
          When I declined to contribute, things got pretty chilly at the table; people were in shock that I wasn't donating my private earnings towards a charity in order to make my employer look good.

          Little late now, but you could have responded that you already contribute to the charity outside of the company. A lie? Yes. But it wouldn't have been one they could have proven or held against you.

        • I hate being coerced to "donate" to a charity. I'll donate however much I want, to whatever charity I chose. Plus rather than a random basket being passed around, if my donation is actually registered, I can get a tax receipt, so I can actually spend more on charity.

        • Of course, they have no idea how much or little you have contributed to other charities, or your financial situation. Peer pressure contributions are never a good thing, and the old business model of United Way was to do just that. Your take home pay should be spent on charities however you wish.

          I do remember my company asking us to write political leaders in a certain city encouraging them to approve a municipal deal. While I can understand the company's position here, it felt really sleazy. It's not m

      • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

        From TFA:

        Also from TFA, the letter explicitly states "Your contribution is important to all of us, but I want to emphasize that all contributions are voluntary and have no impact on your job status, performance review, compensation, or employment." and "Any amount given or the decision not to give will not advantage or disadvantage you." How much of that is going to be reflected in practice -- Disney using other 'justifications' for giving a worker crappier shifts, keep them from receiving performance awards, etc. -- to create a de facto but not de jure requirement to contribute has yet to be seen

        Easiest way to guarantee this: make contributions anonymous. But I bet they wont think of doing that.

      • Yeah, I remember working for a large US employer when it came time to sign up for United Way contributions. There was a lot of pressure to sign up. I was in a special situation, so it didn't really affect me, but I doubt that my colleagues felt that their "voluntary" contributions had no impact on their careers.
      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        How about I fix it for you, nudge, nudge, wink, wink "your quote, wont bother repeating" this in conjunction with the person handing it out saying, we are required to say this by law, but I know you will take the hint and not disadvantage yourself. Every time someone with total control over the other puts out that kind of message it is because they want to send out the exact opposite of the message.

        Genuine company request, we request anonymous contributions from the employees to go into the employees pol

    • by Anonymous Coward

      For an employer to tell their employees to do or take a political stance?

      From the summary: "Disney is now asking its employees to chip in ...".

    • by DaMattster ( 977781 ) on Sunday February 28, 2016 @11:55AM (#51603397)
      Unfortunately, no it isn't illegal. I worked at a company once that did this all of the time. It came through email in a company bulletin so I just created an Outlook rule for these emails to go to junk. The way I see it, I'm not going to read propaganda that looks and reads eerily similarly to what the Chinese Communist Party churns out. I don't want to align my personal agenda with that of my employer's because the net benefit is to my employer and not to me. I don't want to help my employer to manipulate the legal system in their favor.
      • by jbn-o ( 555068 ) <mail@digitalcitizen.info> on Sunday February 28, 2016 @01:56PM (#51603957) Homepage

        Sadly, as right thinking as your reaction is most /. readers don't agree with your take with regard to Disney's actions here and don't have the guts to admit they don't agree. Their unprincipled obeisance to Disney's power is unlike some posters to the Ars Technica (Condé Nast) forum on this story who object publicly such as user "SmokeTest":

        Yeah, because Disney totally can't afford lobbying unless they go to their workers with their hands out, and the state of copyright in the country is incredibly hostile to Disney. Of course they need to go to their lowest paid employees and ask them to fund their effort to further corrupt the laws to line the pockets of the executives with more cash than ever.

        This is fucking disgusting. I'm done supporting Disney in any way, forever. Going to be hard not watching the new Star Wars movies in theaters, but man, this shit has got to end.

        Power-for-power's-sake supporting /.ers will pay to see the next Star Wars movie, visit Disney theme parks, buy Disney-licensed merchandise of all kinds and thus feed the system that oppresses the world via copyright and TPP. This fight goes far beyond the term of copyright both in who is affected and specific powers multinational corporations seek to gain.

      • If it was the CCP, it wouldn't have been a form, it would have been an e-mail thanking you for the voluntary contribution HR just made on your behalf. If you're lucky that is, otherwise you won't even get the mail.

    • In a practical sense, no.

      There are many regulations about free speech, but particular political views can be a condition of employment in private enterprises in most states. See breakdowns of worker political rights such as http://www.workplacefairness.o... [workplacefairness.org], and review the history of corporations breaking up union activities by both subtle pressure and physical violence throughout American history.

      Even if political support is "voluntary", the absence of a vocal support of leadership's views on politics, rac

    • For an employer to tell their employees to do or take a political stance?

      Not really, especially now that Corporations are people and have all the rights and less responsibility than flesh and blood people.

      Its a two edged sword though http://www.hrcapitalist.com/20... [hrcapitalist.com]

      In teh case of a company like WalMart to "suggest" that it's employees vote a certain way, it becomes a WalMart issue, as well as a political one. There are those among us, inclusing myself, who have an issue with WalMart demanding my Tax dollars to subsidize their loww low prices every day.

      http://money.cnn. [cnn.com]

    • I thought foreigners who wanted the lobby the government had to register?

  • disgusting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vel-ex-tech ( 4337079 ) on Sunday February 28, 2016 @11:39AM (#51603319)

    The idea that legislation needs "funding" is odious in unto itself.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    One of the first major casualties. Who/what's next?

  • by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Sunday February 28, 2016 @11:46AM (#51603349)
    Lets just be clear, Disney's stated goal towards Copyright Law is to Subvert the U.S. Constitution and see that the clause where works eventually pass into Public Domain (a benefit the public is to receive in return for giving Copyright Protection to Authors) never actually applies.
  • Fuck that. (Score:1, Troll)

    by HalAtWork ( 926717 )

    Feel free to mod +5 Insightful.

  • by mykepredko ( 40154 ) on Sunday February 28, 2016 @11:53AM (#51603379) Homepage

    While a corporation should and needs to protect it's assets and petition sitting governments on various, I think it's a) inappropriate to monetarily support candidates and b) coerce employees to support and contribute to the cause. In the '80s, when I was working for IBM, they sent a letter to all (Canadian, at least) employees telling them to support NAFTA which I (and many of my coworkers) thought was inappropriate but the company felt that it was in its best interests to do this.

    The situation is even more despicable when it comes to Disney, who clearly don't seem to care about their employees and really not good corporate citizens. There maybe honour & prestige working for Disney but if there is an option to reduce their costs, they will clearly take it, current employees be damned.

    • by TarPitt ( 217247 )

      "Disney, who clearly don't seem to care about their employees" has led to employees using the nickname "mauschwitz" to describe their employer. Yes, Disney's reputation is that bad.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If you don't believe in your employer's mission, quit, but profit or no, there _are_ people at Disney who work for their art and the joy it brings.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      and if you are not in a positions to quit and vote with your feet, what? Suck it up?

      Fuck you.

      If you want to know what Disney is like, go see South Park's "The Ring" episode or ask anybody who's ever worked for them just how evil they are. Example: they financially screwed and lied about Robin Williams for years. Finally, when the Mouse decided the NEEDED Williams, the new boss apologizes and all is supposed to be well. Now imagine what they get away with on people without that kind of star power...

      "You real

  • full disclosure: I don't even ask for co-workers to fund my kids fund raisers, as that's an imposition on the workplace. 'Specially as I'm a manager. As the *employer* is making the ask, this isn't ethical. The bit about making this easy to do via your paycheck means that HR can, and likely does, see who contributes. The paycheck deduction makes this really, really 'wrong.' I'd actually be ~ok with the 'please consider contributing,' but not not part of the payroll process. Fuller disclosure : if I needed
  • Next they will say you better not vote trump if you like to keep your job!

  • Why would any employee help a company that has done nothing but shit all over them? I'd be surprised if there weren't quite a few actively contributing to violating copyright. Really, this one way asshattedness that corporations constantly show is completely exhausting.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    As long as they take advantage of slave labor being practically legal in some other part of the world, people should take advantage of copying media being legal in some other part of the world.
  • by wisnoskij ( 1206448 ) on Sunday February 28, 2016 @12:44PM (#51603623) Homepage

    Did you know, Charles Perrault's family, etc. all, have not received a cent of royalties from the Disney corporation for their copying of their stories.

    • Team rodent at it again... Fuck Disney!
    • Did you know, Charles Perrault's family, etc. all, have not received a cent of royalties from the Disney corporation for their copying of their stories.

      Well, yeah. That's how these companies work, they take everything in and give nothing out.

  • IP solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wheeda ( 520016 ) on Sunday February 28, 2016 @12:55PM (#51603681)

    Here is my ideal IP solution. All IP (patents and copyright) must state a value. Any value at all. The owner of the IP then pays intellectual property tax a some rate. If someone else really wants that IP, they can pay the owner the stated amount and the IP becomes public domain.

    This solves all kinds of issues including orphaned works, patent trolls, and the likes of Disney tying up copyrighted works that should have entered the public domain decades ago. Well, maybe Disney could still tie up copyrighted works, but at least it would cost them to the benefit of tax payers.

    • by bool2 ( 1782642 )

      Here's my ideal so-called Intellectual Property (IP) solution. All IP must be abolished immediately and rent seekers be damned.

      I doubt my ideal solution will be implemented so I'd settle for copyright laws being scaled back massively. Mickey bloody Mouse is way past its copyright date. Collusion with lawmakers to extend it shows exactly why nobody trusts the establishment and why people like Trump will become the next president.

      • 5 years. No extension.

        I can see that there is money to be made and investments to be recovered. But we're in the time and age of instant distribution and information can travel around the globe in a matter of seconds. From filming something to the cinema it's a matter of a few weeks, months maybe. Take a look at the box office and show me ONE movie older than a YEAR still being shown in the cinemas. No later than a year after its creation the movie's available on a watch-at-home medium. No later than three

    • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

      Here is my ideal IP solution.

      Unfortunately you have the TPP instead and I don't think they are taking suggestions.

  • Just sayin'

    If spoiled American workers don't want the job . . .

  • source: Wife. I've read the pamphlets.

  • ...as we continue to outsource as many of your jobs as possible. Buy DisneyABCPixar: Buy Outsourced.
  • do they think all those outsourced jobs in and from india / china really give a single fuck about copyright?

  • All big companies do this. I just ignore them. Their interests never align with mine, even though they would like me to think that they do. Perhaps if the ties-that-bind were a little bit more stable, with more common interests between employee-employer, I might feel differently. Otherwise, it's just a waste of money.
  • Doesn't Iger mean ogre in German?

  • My company solicits PAC donations, too. I never really thought it was a big deal and assumed that all large companies did the same.

    Companies aren't allowed to contribute to PACs, after all, and those of use that work in companies are all kind of in the same boat. In my case maybe I want my company to hire lobbyist to oppose the required use of some type of 1200 MPa material in, say, mirror mounting brackets where there's no engineering justification.

    If my company's PAC were evil, then I'd think twice. Barri

    • Because you never given it thought, then how do you know the PAC isn't working against your interest. And, when *you* succeed, the industry succeeds.
  • Just when you think Disney can't get any scummier, they take it to another level...

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