Microsoft and Walt Disney Company announced Monday that they will be combining their powers in order to make the world of digital entertainment more secure and readily available. While the details of the multi-year agreement from a financial standpoint have not been disclosed, it would appear that Disney and Microsoft are once again trying to get their hands on a little bit of everything — if not everything.
Disney is a name that is practically synonymous when it comes to copyright. Particularly Microsoft has not exactly been too forthright about their business practices, as numerous anti-trust lawsuits showed. It leaves one to wonder whether this merger will end up being a monopoly on yet another form of entertainment and technology.
Peter Murphy, the chief strategic officer for Disney, told The Los Angeles Times that their move to the digital forum was “a form of consumer empowerment.” However, considering the company will have access to all of Microsoft’s digital software and capabilities, it would appear the empowerment is in the other corner.
The capabilities of the digital media are extending much further than in-house use. The companies plan to deliver these forms to cell phones, personal computers and the rising-in- popularity portable media devices. Once this entertainment is purchased and delivered to a device, it can then be transferred to any other device within the home via the Microsoft software.
The Financial Times reports that Microsoft has been trying to plant roots into the media business through their software that can convert originally formatted programs into transmittable forms that can be uploaded onto the Internet and onto personal computers. The Financial Times also indicated that until now, Microsoft’s attempts have been in vain. The partnership also comes in the wake of Disney’s much-publicized split with Pixar Animation Studios two weeks ago. Pixar also happens to be led by the founder of Apple Computer Inc., Steve Jobs, who is pursuing the iTunes Music Store. iTunes is a program that does not use the Microsoft digital rights software but relies on its own open source method.
According to The Los Angeles Times, Disney obtained a license to Microsoft’s “digital rights management technology.” This license entitles Disney to limit how digital media files can be used by anyone who receives them.
These business giants happen to be notorious for controlling aspects of their industries. The companies should be watched closely before new problems of monopolies arise as the old ones remain unresolved.