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The Magical Sock Farms of Walt Disney

by E. A. Barbour

As any regular watcher of Wikipedia can attest, the coverage of corporations on Wikipedia is spotty, and is often blatantly hostile–or blatantly positive. One of my favorites is still the Kirby Company. When I first looked at it in 2010, it was the ugliest hit-piece I’d ever seen on en-wiki, almost nothing about the company but a long list of legal problems and rape-prone salesmen. Then, in late 2011, some mysterious person tripled the article’s length, with material that looked like a company press packet. Things like this happen on a near-continuous basis; a company rep or other paid editor writes a glowing company biography and posts it on en-WP, a left-wing agitator erases it and posts a long rant about the firm’s legal problems, then another company rep shows up and changes it all again. Back and forth, they quietly pass the salami. If the WMF weren’t so profoundly pathetic, they could sell tickets to this idiocy, and call it “entertainment”.

One of the most blatant, yet unrecognized, battlegrounds for POV editing involves the giant copyright troll and theme-park operator, known as The Walt Disney Company. Disney is quite dependent for much of its billions in annual revenue on old cartoon characters, most created prior to 1970. Disney was the primary instigator of the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, written as a favor to the Happiest Place on Earth by Congressman Sonny Bono, shortly before his head tried to penetrate a tree. The CTEA is often called the “Mickey Mouse Act”, because it immediately extended the copyrights on early Mickey Mouse cartoons–which otherwise would have lapsed into the public domain in only a few years. Since Wikipedia fanboys tend to be free-culture extremists, one would think that Wikipedia’s coverage of Disney would be uncomplimentary.

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