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Sunday, May 23, 2021

Devil Mouse is killing the classics

The Disney copyright extension is running out:

As the year 2000 approached, Disney had a problem. Copyrights on some of the company’s earliest cartoons, including “Steamboat Willie,” were set to expire soon. As one 1998 report put it, “[w]ithout copyright term extension, the company faces the potential nightmare of seeing its greatest treasures pass from corporate possession into the public domain.” Americans would be free to reproduce Disney’s public domain works, and even make new stories derived out of that content, without worrying about getting sued for copyright infringement. With “billions of dollars in revenue” at stake the report adds, Mickey Mouse went to Washington.

The story of how the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act, known within the copyright bar as the Mickey Mouse Protection Act, came to be is pure Swamp. In 1998, Disney Chairman Michael Eisner descended on Trent Lott’s office to ask the Senate Majority Leader for help. “He was very much interested in seeing the copyright bill,” Lott said at the time. As Congressional Quarterly reported, “[b]efore he left the spacious offices of the majority leader at the U.S. Capitol on June 9, Eisner was assured that his company’s pet bill would get the help it needed.”

In addition to Eisner’s visit, the company donated money to key committee leaders, including Republican Congressman Howard Coble of North Carolina, who was then the chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Arts and Intellectual Property. Disney also “paid $2,700” to host House Speaker Newt Gingrich and his wife “for three days at Disney Institute, the company’s educational facility in Orlando.”

When it was all over, Mickey Mouse had his way with the Republican-controlled Congress. With unanimous consent in the Senate and a voice vote in the House, Congress enacted the extension, tacking an additional twenty years onto existing copyright terms.

Fast forward to today. The extension Disney toiled for on Capitol Hill in 1998 is about to run out. As early as 2024, key Disney cartoons will pass into the public domain. 

The irony is that public domain is how works survive over time. In fact, most of Disney's best IP is derived from the public domain. Instead of further extending the copyright period, as the Devil Mouse will almost certainly attempt, it should be reduced to the life of the author + 20 years. That's more than enough time for the heirs and copyright holders to sufficiently profit from a new creation in order to justify it being created in the first place.

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44 Comments:

Blogger Mike Mountain May 23, 2021 8:18 AM  

Although I understand the logic of copyright, I struggle to grasp why someone who grows up with a character like Satan's own mouse, from the time they are born well into their twenties, should be forced to pay to reproduce his likeness in new and original works of art? Surely this is oppressive to an individual to whom the character is now an intricate piece of their own existence?

Blogger PM May 23, 2021 8:42 AM  

Macaulay's speeches on the subject are still the definitive authority I think. For those who may be interested in further reading both speeches are archived at Eric Flint's website: https://ericflint.net/information/macaulay-on-copyright/

Blogger Jose Miguel May 23, 2021 8:47 AM  

@1 Mike Mountain

Check out the book Against Intellectual Monopoly by Michele Boldrin and David Levine, it addresses both your questions.

Blogger van helsing May 23, 2021 8:49 AM  

creating scarcity so they can profit off it?

Blogger xevious2030 May 23, 2021 9:00 AM  

20 years, tops. Time for profit, guided innovation, and for the public to then begin to make use of it in the expanded role. Without everybody being dead. More money/idea exclusivity? More new work. Add available to the public domain que. Or risk the open seas.

Blogger Canadian Warlord May 23, 2021 9:08 AM  

I hope Sonny Bono, a Congressman loved by many, was not rubbed out because of something he did for disney. Maybe he just hit a tree?

Blogger Peter C May 23, 2021 9:40 AM  

Life of the author + 20 years wouldn't work presently because corporations are immortal. Unless you redefine copyright as something only flesh and blood persons can hold.

What I would propose is infinite copyright on everything, BUT it only applies to actual works, IE any derivative works are not covered.

Blogger Brother Deke May 23, 2021 10:00 AM  

Disney is dying. Dying slowly in the entertainment business is a very expensive proposition.

Blogger Unknown May 23, 2021 10:24 AM  

Mike Mountain wrote:Although I understand the logic of copyright, I struggle to grasp why someone who grows up with a character like Satan's own mouse, from the time they are born well into their twenties, should be forced to pay to reproduce his likeness in new and original works of art? Surely this is oppressive to an individual to whom the character is now an intricate piece of their own existence?

Traditional in western law and society is that an artist or inventor has the right to profit from his work for a period of time.

The writer of Harry Potter would have no reason to invent the world and cause million of kids to read 7 novels, if the traditional publishing companies could have seen her submission, laughed, and hired someone in house to finish it.

Same with patents. No one is going to invent a safe self driving car or heart valve, if the other companies can just start making it themselves.

So a reasonable amount of time for JK Rowling to sell plays and movies set in the universe she created, before everyone can jump in.

But Disney figured out that congress is really corrupt, and now has creative IP locked up for a century, soon to be 115 years.

Patents are usually only good for 20 years. So the protection range is somewhere between 20 years and forever, and Disney will keep passing money around until it is forever.

Blogger Unknown May 23, 2021 10:48 AM  

That's much more generous than my own proposal: 25 years from original creation, with a sole 25 year extension available only to the original creator, not who- or whatever holds the rights at the time. If the creator has already passed on, tough luck.

Blogger Newscaper312 May 23, 2021 11:07 AM  

@Uniniwn
I think lifetime plus 20 or so years is good. Lets your grandkids benefit, but not a bunch of later descendants whom you never knew, much less a faceless corporation the rights might get sold to.

Blogger Ominous Cowherd May 23, 2021 11:19 AM  

Peter C wrote:What I would propose is infinite copyright on everything, ...
That's ridiculous. The purpose of copyright is to encourage creators to create. Once they're dead, they aren't going to create any more, no matter how you encourage them. Giving them the assurance that their heirs will benefit for a few years after their death encourages the elderly and infirm to keep working. Infinite copyright doesn't help with that, and destroys our common heritage. Go read Melancholy Elephants.

Blogger jarheadljh May 23, 2021 11:20 AM  

We would be better off with no IP laws at all than the IP laws that we have now, which are basically just a giant set of clubs that corporate legal uses to bash over the heads of the little guys.

Blogger Ominous Cowherd May 23, 2021 11:20 AM  

Unknown wrote:That's much more generous than my own proposal: 25 years from original creation, with a sole 25 year extension available only to the original creator, not who- or whatever holds the rights at the time. If the creator has already passed on, tough luck.
This is a sane proposal, which would accomplish what the constitution intended when it gave congress the power to legislate in this area.

Blogger Taignobias May 23, 2021 11:38 AM  

With patents, which have more significant ramifications in the physical world, I argue for the lesser of the following:

- 10 years
- 3 years, if profits exceed 3x any reasonable investment
- 1 year, if profits exceed 10x any reasonable investment

With improvements to manufacturing since patent laws were created, 20 years of blanket protection is unnecessarily restrictive. Reducing the terms and adding the 'reasonable investment' clause inhibits patent houses and keeps pharma from locking down medications for obscene profits.

Blogger Emmanuel May 23, 2021 12:26 PM  

The Public Domain is ass. As evidenced by the fact that Disney has actually done better over time with IP's not in the public domain.

If a man cannot own something so basic as the product of his own mind, what can he ultimately own?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jV1DxpXllC8

Blogger Unknown May 23, 2021 12:35 PM  

Extend patent law to life term to match because otherwise there's no incentive to produce cures for serious diseases versus endless treatments. A poem has better legal coverage than a cure for cancer and that's obscene. People complain why science hasn't evolved in the sense of technology and, working in STEM, we all know why - patent law doesn't reward inventors, especially lone ones. You need a huge company to file a lot and then defend it. The system is rigged against improvement, cui bono?

Blogger Unknown May 23, 2021 12:39 PM  

@15 reducing or abandoning IP is intellectual Marxism, it's like the Chinese repeatedly shooting their own intellectuals. I could go out and have more fun like an American but instead I choose to work longer hours, and where is the incentive if the already dim prospect of reward is reduced to nothingness? You assume everyone is a multi-billion dollar company and most of us are not. In fact, as for actual inventors, most of them are lone figures, independent and already lose money just making something that WORKS let alone protecting it. Do not comment on matters you know nothing about, especially if your solution is also pushed by the most rabid Marxist SJWs. Note: they never want to abolish IP they rely on. Why is the copyright of a Buzzfeed writer more valuable to society than a widget that helps people? We pay for value in the real world and the law must reflect that.

Blogger Angantyr May 23, 2021 12:56 PM  

That's ridiculous. The purpose of copyright is to encourage creators to create. Once they're dead, they aren't going to create any more, no matter how you encourage them.

I dunno, J.R.R. Tolkien seemed to respond to encouragement, and produced much more whilst dead than G.R.R. Martin is producing even now amongst the quick!

Blogger Gen. Kong May 23, 2021 12:59 PM  

The original term in the USA was similar to a patent: 14 years from publication, which was extended to 28 years (14 years plus another 14 if the author applied for a renewal) by Andrew Jackson's era. The initial minimum term of the European-centered Berne Treaty (1883) was life of the last surviving author plus 30 years. Imperial Russia (who never signed Berne) had a life-plus-50 term. The Bolsheviks abolished copyright in 1918 but ultimately set a limited term of publication plus 15 years. Devil-Mouse has been bribing legislatures worldwide to extend from Berne's present minimum of life plus 50 to life plus 70, backed up by the Uncle Schmuel's Clown Empire (including the Trump state department). Even in this area, communism was better than clown-capitalism (usury-racketeering).

Blogger Imwill May 23, 2021 1:03 PM  

You keep saying “nobody”
But around the world all these things are being done without that incentive structure.
Basically your assumption is not shown in reality.

Blogger VD May 23, 2021 1:07 PM  

reducing or abandoning IP is intellectual Marxism, it's like the Chinese repeatedly shooting their own intellectuals.

Your statement is both stupid and false, and you are obviously ignorant. IP laws long predate both Marxism and Marx himself.

You're not tall enough for this ride.

Blogger Gen. Kong May 23, 2021 1:07 PM  

I hope Sonny Bono, a Congressman loved by many, was not rubbed out because of something he did for disney. Maybe he just hit a tree?

The law was named for him after he hit the tree and went to whatever place Repukes go. He and Cher once stated copyright should be 'forever less one day'. If his ticket was punched it was probably for something else.

Blogger VD May 23, 2021 1:09 PM  

Do not comment on matters you know nothing about, especially if your solution is also pushed by the most rabid Marxist SJWs.

Found the Gamma. What a pathetically dishonest retard you are! It is the rabid SJWs at Disney who are the most opposed to preventing the reduction of the copyright term.

Blogger Unknown May 23, 2021 1:14 PM  

@22 Vox, I respect your political opinions but one reason I can't use a name is because I'm an inventor and you're not. The SJWs have already come after me before, and I learned my lesson. That's how I found you, and continue to tell other people facing them about how they work. Incentives apply to everything. The reason massive companies crush out the little guy is on purpose. Tesla's poem was worth more legally, apparently, than all of his machines put together, and even then he held off on patenting most of it because Edison and his pals crushed him. I can assure you, having known and worked with other independent inventors, I am tall enough for this ride. When you find yourself agreeing with Marxists, who wish to destroy our technological civilization, pause to ask yourself.... why? It is mathematical FACT, is it not, that there is a cost/benefit analysis to everything. Given this, why should I waste my life savings on a project whose R&D costs have no ceiling, on the glimmer of an amber of a promise of profit? And you wonder why there are no Teslas anymore. The inventors I know have largely given up. Questions are existential like, who wants us? Who values our work? They pay lip service but then fund the big cheese like Apple, who ripped off the design aesthetic of Braun. Yes, the razor people. So I do know quite a lot, AMA if you want. (Barring my exact work, obviously).

Blogger Imwill May 23, 2021 1:23 PM  

If your only metric for success is what some massive faceless corporation finds most profitable, sure, public domain is ass.

Individuality over society is sin.

Blogger Imwill May 23, 2021 1:23 PM  

If your only metric for success is what some massive faceless corporation finds most profitable, sure, public domain is ass.

Individuality over society is sin.

Blogger VD May 23, 2021 1:24 PM  

That's nice that you're an inventor, but you're still just as obviously and completely wrong. Do you seriously think an appeal to irrelevant credentials means anything here. You are not tall enough for this ride, you're a solipsist who thinks that the law should be based upon what he thinks is good for him.

You're no different than the economics moron who thinks interest rates should ideally be whatever benefits his house payment at the moment.

Here's why you are wrong: the very people about whom you are complaining, the big corporations, are the parties that most seek long-term, heavily restricted IP. Furthermore, you keep babbling about inventors and patents when the topic at hand is copyright.

So get over yourself already, because you clearly don't understand the first thing about the situation despite the fact that you are neck deep in it. You're no different than the retards who genuinely believe that no one would write books without copyright. That's obviously and historically wrong.

Blogger Unknown May 23, 2021 1:24 PM  

@24 I was mentioning patent law and useful inventions specifically. Copyright should logically have parity to other IP but I do have solutions, actually.
1. companies cannot hold IP, only individuals.
2. lifetime of the originator, BUT it's extended by say 20 years as others commented, IF a direct blood descendant inherits. These would both screw over the corporate bully boy model nicely. Nobody honest I've worked with would oppose these measures, but the real patent trolls (hello Apple rounded corners) would hate it because they'd lose their shorts. The money is there for R&D given the low interest rate environment but like in Tesla's time with the Tower, there needs to be a valid recoup period so if you're spending for say, decades in safety data for a cure, you'd logically require tantamount decades to recoup the immediate loss, before the question of a profit is whispered into a capitalist head. It's a simple equation and the Marxists pretend both that equation and incentives do not exist.

Blogger Peter C May 23, 2021 1:27 PM  

@12
I would say on the contrary, it would allow other authors to use the characters, concepts and ideas in the original work in order to write better stories, movies, games, etc. Imagine having the possibility to make for example Star Wars movies, games that aren't woke and promote true moral values.

Compare the capacity for creating great works in a particular setting for one man to the rest of the entire world that would allow.

Blogger Unknown May 23, 2021 1:35 PM  

@28 (sigh) You could always test your brilliant hypothesis by letting the copyright of your comics go and see what the Chinese do to steal it. No? Thought not. Your work is not more valuable than mine, and I've done art on the side too. I know both are hard. IP is an umbrella term and parity wouldn't downgrade the civilizational value of one work over another. What's good for the goose and all. One reason for the dwindling quality of artwork in the West isn't willing, but the rip-offs from markets like China, which are notorious for stealing paintings and making works from them. If a worker cannot live off the fruit of their labour because another steals it, the works will slowly decrease until the overall quality goes down and the artform dies. I think you knew that making your comics, yes? Guilds protected us before globalisation. There must be a financial reward for that originality, if society values it. If not, I could happily go work in a shop, never release my real work and die with a lot less stress. Tesla relented to that life eventually (trunk full of papers) but the legal system forced his hand. Instead I've discussed with politicians, investors (not the big guys, good ones) and solicitors about what would actually work, and while copyright in America is horrendous, the overall IP situation is much worse. The future depends on what we do now. Your comment mentioned IP generally, as did comments, or I wouldn't have brought it up.

Blogger Frozen Territory May 23, 2021 1:37 PM  

@Taignobias

That profit accelerated patent expiration idea is interesting, but I have a couple of concerns. Many patents are based on features not entire systems. How are we to say how much spyderco has profited from having opener holes their knives, versus any other style? Or how much worse would a line of cars have sold without the improvement to handling? Secondly, what is a "reasonable investment"? Innovation could be the work of a day, or the culmination of a lifetime's experience, and they could both cost the company the same amount. It's not obvious to me that your system is sufficiently better for its loss of simplicity.
What do you think of a "expiration begins from adoption" model? The patent holds for 10 years unless during that time the inventor licenses its use by another, at which point it expires 10 years from that date.
It still shortens the protection based on how easy it is to sell and doesn't involve accountants.

Blogger VD May 23, 2021 1:42 PM  

You could always test your brilliant hypothesis by letting the copyright of your comics go and see what the Chinese do to steal it. No? Thought not.

And there is the Gamma again. As it happens, that's exactly what I plan to do in order to ensure that my work lives on over time. Did you never notice that there is no copy protection on any of our books? Did you not notice that some of our most successful products are already in the public domain?

You are flat-out wrong. Literally everything you have said is provably false. Just to give one example, Western art was dying long before Nixon ever went to China. Rip-offs have nothing at all to do with it.

You really need to a) get over yourself and b) get your Gamma under control, Special Inventor Boy.

Blogger Mike Mountain May 23, 2021 1:53 PM  

Remember when Shakespeare failed to write his plays for lack of copyright?

Blogger eclecticme May 23, 2021 1:57 PM  



There was a US copyright case about a devil mouse poster, Search for dirty Disney poster. It turned out to be a road map, not satire.
https://www.mearsonlineauctions.com/lot-83150.aspx
https://www.mearsonlineauctions.com/ItemImages/000083/79989a_lg.jpeg

There is one thing about patent law that most people do not understand. If a country puts a tariff on imports, it both helps and harms different segments of that country. If a country can screw the foreigner patent holder in their national courts, it is all upside, absent some retaliation.

BTW the US didn't used to have strong copyright protection as they had no US authors to protect. US publishers would rip off Dickens and sell him cheap in the US. Much cheaper than any US authors who actually wanted to get paid.Later on there were more US authors to protect so the US granted stronger copyright protection.

Blogger Unknown May 23, 2021 2:05 PM  

@33 not a boy but thanks. Maybe say I have a small manhood next? You brought up the topic or I'd have left well alone. Then you posed questions I answered.
I know artists who've tried that, wait until they start making woke versions. Speak to people having their artwork, with a sizeable following, ripped off by people painting replicas in China and selling them as originals, or printing up t-shirts Amazon somehow is allowed to sell, despite violating its national IP. Then you might see the error in that approach. A licensing system allows you control over the spiritual message and that's priceless.
I suggested solutions and they're based on firsthand experience in the system. I notice you cannot oppose them because they're common sense and meet the criteria of the problem you discussed, yet not a word that's positive? Ungenerous. I am trying to help, IRL. Not larping online to impress people, hence the anon. You're applying a system of men being judged by women (the hierarchy is sexually selected) to systems thinking that is too general and socially adept to be some rando sperg, Vox. You're high IQ, you know that. ;) If you truly seek solutions, please don't attack those of us who offer them. Some of us do want a better future or we'd just retire and live like the gibs people. Continue to navel gaze on the subject (it is your garden) and by all means, tell me if you could improve on my two elegant suggestions to your entire issue with the field. Reason: They fear families and retention of power intergenerationally within them, use that. More people are watching you from my corner than you realise and we would genuinely appreciate further developments, if the comments here can puzzle through something new we, working in it, were too close to see.

Blogger Pathfinderlight May 23, 2021 4:11 PM  

Western copyright law in practice means nothing in China. Any Foreign claimant will have to sue in a Chinese court, which has the incentive to rule in favor of the respondent due to both nationalistic pride and monetary incentives for China. Real life examples of rampant copyright infringement include illicit CD copying companies and unlicensed anime figure manufacturing, both of which operate openly in China.

In this context, Vox's decisions on copyright are interesting in that they do not punish people in countries that try to play by the rules. It will certainly be interesting to see which comic book universe is most prevalent in 100 years time.

Disney abuse of public domain works isn't unique, but it is egregious. To the point that fan art and fan fiction communities wrongly attribute copyright for entire public domain characters to Disney out of fear for being sued. This is not the purpose of copyright law at all.

Blogger Teleport me off this rock May 23, 2021 4:35 PM  

Unknown, if you were half as smart as you think you are, you'd be a flatworm. By the way somethin', "Teleport me off this rock" is NOT my real name.

Blogger Jose Miguel May 23, 2021 6:09 PM  

Unknown, my dad was about as a successful songwriter you can be without selling your soul, when He passes and I inherit his copyrights to his songs & tunes, I'll be making copyfree recordings and sheetmusic to release into the public domain.

I want his stuff to be enjoyed and last, not suppressed by one of the SJW corps that are copyright trolls that censor stuff to reduce competition for mainstream filth.

@Teleport me off this rock

"Teleport me off this rock" is NOT my real name.

"DISSAPOINTED!!!"

Blogger Damelon Brinn May 23, 2021 6:35 PM  

If a man cannot own something so basic as the product of his own mind

We're not talking about that at all. We're talking about corporations owning the products of minds long dead, and holding them into perpetuity thanks to corrupt government. Why are you dishonestly reframing the topic like that?

Blogger Theproductofafineeduction May 23, 2021 7:37 PM  

You can’t use a nome de plume because...your an “inventor”.

Go be and SJW elsewhere

Blogger Theproductofafineeduction May 23, 2021 7:38 PM  

Go elsewhere. You aren’t welcome here.

Blogger Dire Badger May 24, 2021 5:51 AM  

No one deserves 'the product of their own mind'. Only the product of their own work.
EVERY idea you come up with has been thought of a thousand times by others. Your brain is simply not that valuable, snowflake, neither are your ideas.

If you produce a work and copyright it, yes, you should be entitled to profit from it for your own life. Not the life of an immortal 'corporate entity'. That life is utterly false. a creature that cannot be punished and exists only to consume and profit is not 'alive', it is a virus.

Trademark law, on the other hand, only exists to prevent people from using your visual signature to defraud others... It should not be a 'profit point', it should be 'fraud protection'.

And the worst of the worst is patent law. You design something? You have an absolute right to protect it by stashing it in your basement and not telling anyone else about it. Filing a 'patent' for an 'idea' is grossly stupid and the fact that the law apparently protects this sort of fraud is an utterly stupid and corrupt injustice.

No, you are not unique. The only thing that sets you apart is your willingness to work.

Blogger Ominous Cowherd May 25, 2021 8:49 AM  

Dire Badger wrote:You have an absolute right to protect it by stashing it in your basement and not telling anyone else about it.
The whole reason for patents was to make it profitable to disclose trade secrets.

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