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June 29, 2022 | In The News

Disney’s Losing Year Might Get Worse

Republican members of Congress have fresh sights set on the Walt Disney Company with legislation dubbed the Copyright Restoration Clause Act that seeks to level the intellectual property playing field by stripping Disney of its monopoly on copyright protection — a situation Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL) says came as a result of “special favors created by establishment politicians.” Steube introduced the House version of the bill this week, after Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) introduced the bill earlier this year in the upper chamber. 

Specifically, the legislation will limit new copyrights to 56 years, the length of time that was upheld for most of the last century. The bill would make the change retroactive for entertainment giants including the Walt Disney Company that had special exceptions to maintain copyrights for more than 100 years. If the bill becomes law, Disney would start losing protection on its oldest copyrights, including the original Mickey Mouse, though there would be a delayed implementation for some license holders to protect pre-existing contracts.

“This legislation will remove their special privileges and even the playing field for all entertainment companies,” Steube said of the bill. “Disney has leveraged their privileges to conduct reprehensible work with the Chinese Communist regime, force sexual indoctrination on America’s youth, and most recently, aid the murder of unborn babies.”

Hawley, who’s leading the charge for the legislation in the upper chamber, declared that “the age of Republican handouts to Big Business is over. Thanks to special copyright protections from Congress, woke corporations like Disney have earned billions while increasingly pandering to woke activists,” Hawley explained. “It’s time to take away Disney’s special privileges and open up a new era of creativity and innovation.”

As the law stands now, Disney and a handful of similar, large entertainment companies have copyright protection for up to 120 years, way more than the original 28 year maximum protection. While copyright protections are important to drive innovation and creativity, cracking down on copyright monopolies like Disney has will make sure such protections don’t stretch beyond what’s necessary to encourage new endeavors. 

The push to strip Disney’s long-lasting protection on copyrights comes as the company weathers a turbulent year filled with missteps, defeats, and shaky leadership. Despite failing in its attempts to oppose parental rights legislation and a bill to strip Walt Disney World’s special district status passed by the Florida legislature and signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis, Disney CEO Bob Chapek just had his contract extended for another three years.