You will recall that Lauren Boebert was unsuprisingly confused about what lawmaking power she has as a lawmaker, having threatened to not “extend Micky (sic) Mouse’s trademark,” which is not a power Congress has. Josh Hawley, who has never been shy about threatening private companies over protected speech, at least has straight which law to threaten Disney with.
If you can’t read that, it says:
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.
It’s not just what you do, but how and why you do it that matters. This is a perfect example. I too don’t want to see yet another extension of the current copyright term. Though, by all accounts, Disney has recognized how untenable further term extension is and hasn’t been lobbying for it at all. Ever since the public domain was allowed to return in the US, Hollywood has mostly accepted its fait regarding works from 95 years ago. But that doesn’t mean I want to live in an America where a select group of state actors can openly threaten private companies over protected speech.
Beyond that, it’s entirely unclear what legislation Hawley is proposing. Disney doesn’t have “special copyright protections”; it has the same protections as everyone else, albeit protections it specifically and heavily lobbied for. It’s unclear what Hawley is seeking to “end.”
The Walt Disney Company has lobbied multiple times to extend certain copyright protections so that their intellectual property would not fall into public domain. The Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 extended corporate copyright protection from 75 years to 95 years, keeping Mickey Mouse under Disney’s control until at least 2024. These extensions don’t just apply to Disney, though they are the ones pushing the hardest for them.
So by all means, don’t extend copyright terms. Or, hey, even shorten them! But Hawley isn’t going to do that to one single company and he shouldn’t be allowed to do it at all on the basis of speech that he doesn’t like.
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