crypto and public policy

What’s Good for the Mouse….

Filed under: General October 15, 2004 @ 12:17 pm

Disney obtained a copyright on Mickey Mouse in 1928, giving them sole control over Mickey Mouse stories and representation: you can’t write your own Mickey Mouse story, make and sell a Mickey Mouse sticker or stuffed animal without authorization from Disney. In 1998, with only 5 years left in Mickey’s copyright, Disney lobbied Congress for CTEA – the Copyright Term Extension Act, which retroactively extended copyright by 20 years. Thus, Mickey is locked up until 2023, and Disney can continue to cash in. Expect another lobbying effort around 2020.

A number of people (including me) believe this retroactive extension of copyright is bogus. But right now, it’s the law, and what’s good for the Mouse is good for Peter Pan, right?

Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in England owns the copyright to Peter Pan since 1929. Regardless, it appears one of Disney’s subsidiaries recently published a Peter Pan prequel without permission from Great Ormond Street Hospital. Disney’s justification? The copyright on Peter Pan has run out.

Really? But Peter Pan was copyrighted in 1929, one year after Mickey. So what’s the deal? Retroactive copyright extensions are okay for large corporations, but not okay for a hospital? You’d think if Disney really wanted the world to respect extended copyright, they’d lead by example.

(thanks to Danny from Lessig’s Granny D Guest Blog)

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