Disney celebrating #MayThe4th with fans could have been totally fine had they not dropped in some weird legal notices about using our tweets.
For those of you who don’t know, #MayThe4th is a popular hashtag that Star Wars fans use to celebrate Star Wars Day. The date was chosen because “May the fourth” sounds like “may the force” as in “may the force be with you.” And we’re all super nerdy and wordplay is great, so the Star Wars holiday was born. But then Disney had to go get weird and drop this legal tweet and now everyone is uncomfortable.
— Disney+ (@disneyplus) April 27, 2020
About five hours after the initial tweet they clarified that only tweets that mentioned the Disney+ twitter account would be impacted by this legal claim, but the damage had been done. A fandom that was already feeling pretty weird about Disney’s impacts on the franchise – and even those in the fandom who were sort of neutral or fairly positive about the acquisition – are a bit set off by the initial implication that they are claiming copyright to a fan event.
#MayThe4th remind everyone that Disney has effectively destroyed how copyright law should work so they can milk franchises for possibly hundreds of years while creating a scenario where small content creators have their livelihoods threatened for snippets of songs and movies https://t.co/Sk75lAjt0s
— Walt (@_watsu) April 27, 2020
— Lethality Jane (@sgtjanedoe) April 27, 2020
I’m afraid that it takes more than trying to make a hashtag like #MayThe4th a magic contractual formula, to bind someone contractually. The creation of a contract ain’t no one sided love affair 🙂 https://t.co/BThwbDP1Ru
— Jon Wessel-Aas (@jonwesselaas) April 27, 2020
— Itsukushimi 🍥 (@Itsukushimi777) April 27, 2020
Sure! 😁 My favorite part of #MayThe4th is when Disney blacklisted the LA Times from film reviews because it wrote about their shady theme park practices
— genevieve ⚧ (@an_mistake) April 27, 2020
Fans are also using the hashtag to share extremely crude sexual content to enter it into Disney copyright (yeah, that’s not how it’d work, but it’s still funny). More interestingly, people are using the hashtag to call Disney out for furloughing over 43,000 people during the pandemic. All Disney parks worldwide are currently closed and many people are out of work as a result, both employed directly and indirectly by Disney tourism.
— Pip (@philippawarr) April 27, 2020
The Rise of Skywalker will be coming to Disney+ in time for May the Fourth, which is great, but acknowledging the nerd holiday and then stumbling to this messy legal claim to our fandom events is, uh, pretty clumsy. Disney needs to get it together.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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