I flew into Las Vegas yesterday, just in time to see Disney CEO Robert Iger talk to several thousand people at CES about his company's digital future. Of course, I was bracing for his comments on copyright – his predecessor, Michael D. Eisner, became famous for saying that piracy was the consumer electronics and computer industry's “killer app” prior to testifying at a Senate hearing on the infamous Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act five years ago. The CBDTPA (rolls off your tongue, doesn't it?) would have required content protection technology in every digital device – kind of like a broadcast flag on steroids.
Thankfully, Robert Iger is no Michael Eisner. While the majority of his presentation promoted Disney and all the platforms the company uses to distribute its content (using people like “Lost” stars Matthew Fox and Evangeline Lilly and movie producer Jerry Bruckheimer to make the point), Iger addressed the “piracy” issue right off the bat. He said
The best way to combat piracy is to bring content to market on a well-timed, well-priced basis.
In other words, if we give consumers what they want, when and where they want it and at a fair price, they won't steal. And perhaps it is because of this philosophy that Disney had the number one grossing movie of the year (Pirates of the Carribean brought in $423 million), the number one TV show (Grey's Anatomy), and the number one sports network (ESPN), with a website (ESPN.com) that gets 25 million page views on Monday night football game day.
I can only hope that Mr. Iger's industry colleagues and his DC lobbyists are listening and taking notes.