NEWS: US Senator to Introduce Bill to End Disney’s “Special Copyright Protections”

Disney has been part of a few different political controversies recently, beginning with the introduction of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law, Disney’s response to the law, and subsequent actions from select politicians. Following Disney’s criticism of the new law, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a law to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District in Disney World.


But the political turmoil isn’t quite over yet. A US Senator has now threatened another major part of The Walt Disney Company, saying that “woke corporations shouldn’t get sweetheart deals.”

Senator Josh Hawley (Missouri) recently tweeted, “For years, Disney has gotten special copyright protections from the federal government – allowing them to charge consumers more. Woke corporations shouldn’t get sweetheart deals. I’ll introduce legislation  this week to end their special protections – enough is enough.”

Hawley is likely referring to the copyright protections on Mickey Mouse (and other creative works), which were extended previously. Currently, the copyright protections on the 1928 version of Mickey Mouse are set to expire in 2024. Disney has previously been successful in extending the copyright protections.

A scene from “Steamboat Willie,” starring Mickey Mouse. [©The Walt Disney Company]
If a bill is introduced to end those protections, Mickey Mouse could potentially become part of public domain sooner than anticipated or sooner than Disney might desire. This would allow other companies to use Mickey’s image in their own products without a partnership with Disney.

Mickey at Town Square Theater

UPDATE: We now have an update on the situation with this legislation. According to Fox News, Senator Hawley plans to introduce a bill that purports to “strip the Walt Disney Company of special copyright protections granted to the corporation by Congress, while also limiting the length of new copyrights.”

The new bill is reportedly called the “Copyright Clause Restoration Act of 2022.” Under this bill, the cap on the length of copyrights given to corporations would be 56 years, and this change would be retroactively implemented on companies, including the Walt Disney Company.

For context, currently works created after January 1st, 1978 get copyright protection for the life of the author plus 70 years. For corporations, copyright protection lasts for 95 years from the year of first publication, or 120 years from the year of its creation, whatever expires first. (U.S. Copyright Office)

Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images | Obtained from Fox News

Hawley told Fox News Digital, “The age of Republican handouts to Big Business is over.” He went on to say, “Thanks to special copyright protections from Congress, woke corporations like Disney have earned billions while increasingly pandering to woke activists. It’s time to take away Disney’s special privileges and open up a new era of creativity and innovation.”

Mickey Mouse

Not many other details have been given about this proposed bill, so we’ll keep an eye out for more information and let you know when we know more. Keep following AllEars for all the latest updates!

Learn about how one company is already trying to capitalize on Mickey Mouse.

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