Monday, February 13, 2012

Who wouldn't want to protect Mickey Mouse?

I'm sure all of us have seen a couple (or maybe some of us have seen many) Disney movies throughout our childhood.  These films are known for telling timeless and universal stories as well as entertaining both children and adults.  Not only are they loved by the public, but Disney itself loves these films from the standpoint that they have become--some would argue--the premiere entertainment company in the world.  These stories have created theme parks, television programming, and merchandise throughout the entire world.  So it's no surprise that The Walt Disney Corporation would choose to do everything in its power to protect their ownership of Mickey Mouse, Cinderella, and all of the lovable, memorable characters they created.

Disney was one of the most aggressive supporters for the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998.  It is also known as the Sonny Bono Act as well as the Mickey Mouse Protection Act.  The act extended copyright ownership from 50 years after the owner's death or 75 years for corporate ownership to 70 after the author's death or 120 years for corporate ownership (or 95 years after publication for a corporate work, whichever comes first).

While companies like Disney supported this bill in order to garner more money through the distribution of these films, many feel that this bill hurt the public good because it did not allow for creative works to fall into the public domain for a very long time.  Many also say that the law is unconstitutional, but this argument has greatly failed.

Though such an act does not permit the works of Disney to fall into the public realm, this does not prohibit the use of these films for academic use.  Due to the Fair Use policy, Disney films, characters, and stories can be used for educational purposes.  So while many do not like the idea of Disney or other corporations gaining more money, this bill protects their economic interests as well as the entertainment industry as a whole.

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