While there may not be a law against capitalizing on the death of famous entertainers, it certainly feels like an unethical approach, especially when it comes from a company that clearly cares more about milking money out of consumers than it does making 20 year old content available to them.
That's right. As detailed in a Google+ post by Dan McDermott, Netflix no longer has streaming rights to Whitney Houston's The Bodyguard, and according to McDermott's post, it has everything to do with making money off the famous singer's untimely death. While you may want to take the following explanation with a grain of salt, considering the relationship between Warner Brother and Netflix, then again, maybe not.
From McDermott's post:
So I called Netflx and the rep confirmed what I suspected:
Netflix rep: "Okay Dan, I just went and talked to my main supervisor as to why the movie had been pulled and the reason it was pulled was the production company pulled the streaming rights from us because all the publicity after Whitney Houston's passing there was an opportunity to make really a very large amount of money on the DVD sales of her movies. So they're going to pull all the streaming titles we have of Whitney Houston so they can make more money off the DVD sales of her movies." [Emphasis added]
A quick glance at The Bodyguard's IMDB page reveals the production company, Kasdan Pictures, is indeed owned by the infamous thorn in the side of Netflix's index of rentable movies, Warner Brothers, a company that has made no bones complaining about the lack of revenue the physical sale of DVDs has generated.
And now that Whitney Houston is once again the talk of the town -- for whatever reason -- apparently, Warner Brother sees this as an opportunity to make money of the singer's death. Again, in a free market, Warner Brothers is well within their rights as a company to repackage whatever movie they see fit, but removing it from Netflix's streaming index is almost a slap in the face.
Essentially, Warner Brothers is saying if you want to see Houston in her most famous theatrical performance, you're going to have to pay for it. No wonder these companies fail to generate sympathy for themselves when they complain about the decrease of sales for physical content like DVDs. Is such behavior like what was exhibited when The Bodyguard stream was pulled supposed to generate support for Warner Brothers?
Of course, considering Apple's "accidental" reaction to Houston's death -- raising the price of her music on iTunes -- this shouldn't come as a surprise, but at the same time, it shouldn't be surprising when these same companies can't generate the necessary support for bills like SOPA and PIPA. When you piss off your consumers just to turn a quick buck, it has a way of coming back to bite you, especially when you need these same people to agree with your position on Internet regulation in order to stop piracy.
With all of this in mind, I'm sitting in slack-jawed amazement that Warner Brothers hasn't complained to YouTube about the I Will Always Love You video still being accessible. With that in mind:
You might as well get it before it's too late.