This letter written on behalf of the Society of American Archivists expresses one group’s opposition to the CTEA and the need to oppose such a passing of an act. They argue that the law disrupts the balance between public and private interests and will have a negative impact on the public’s use of unpublished materials for teaching, scholarship and research. The point of the Society is to make things available to the public and they believe that such an extension will inhibit their ability to make things available and useable to the public. Maher on behalf of the society argues that there should be a vigorous public domain and protections for the rights of holders of intellectual property as well. They believe that too short of a copyright may discourage new works but too long of a period may limit the creation of new discoveries and Congress must maintain a balance between the interests of authors and the rights of the public. Maher argues that, “no extension of copyright term should be contemplated until there are available solid analysis of the likely impact of such an extension on the creation of new knowledge”. He goes on to say that the Society is troubles by the effect the extension may have on the use of unpublished material that is found in archives and that courts have continues to restrict the application of fair use, which applies, to archives. The final argument Maher makes is that the Society believes that only a few individuals of heirs and corporations would benefit from the extension of such an extension.
This letter is important because it takes the perspective of an organization that finds the passing of the CTEA to be unbeneficial and detrimental to their work. It is important to my paper because it takes a different perspective, a more personal perspective in a sense. The argument they make is not just for the public domain but also rather for the balance which is something that has not been argued for in other articles.
This article identifies reasons behind why the original Mickey Mouse may not be protected by copyright after all. Menn notes that brand experts value Mickey Mouse today at $3 billion and that he has become the ultimate symbol of intellectual property. Menn also notes that film credits from the 1920’s reveal imprecision in copyright claims. Copyright questions apply to an older Mickey that had longer arms, smaller ears and a pointier nose. This entire notion of Mickey Mouse originally not being protected by copyright begins with Gregory Brown as Menn writes. It was Brown who was a former researcher for Disney who took over the Harvey Productions, home to Casper, who found the imprecision. He learned that Harvey failed to renew copyrights and learned that Disney failed to renew copyright claims on the 1931 short “The Mad Doctor” featuring Mickey Mouse. Brown decided to recreate animation cels but Disney sued and lost the case. However, Brown looked at the original “Steamboat Willie” and found that because three companies were listed without a clear copyright next to any of them, this nullified anyone’s claim. Although receiving some help from friends and people interested in the case, Brown’s appeal was dismissed because he missed a filing deadline. Menn quotes Meiseinger, the former general counsel who said, “everything has to fall into the public domain sometime”.
This article is important to my paper because it take a different look at how people try and put Mickey Mouse back into the public domain rather than arguing against the CTEA. One question that arises out of this article, is why is it so important that Mickey Mouse not be protected? This is a question that I raise in my paper and a question that has several answers to it.
Peter Yu writes that the Supreme Court, in its decision in Eldred v. Ashcroft cited the need to harmonize the United States copyright law with that if the European Union, which is a reason that the CTEA passed in the first place. He writes that Justice Stephen Breyer in his dissent in the case, writes about how the opposite is true even with the passing of the CTEA. Breyer points out that the US and the EU have different copyright terms for a large number of works including, “works made for hire, pre 1978 works and anonymous and pseudonymous works”. Yu examines sound recordings and writes that in the US sound recordings are deemed works made for hire and are therefore protected for 95 years. However, in the EU, recordings are only protected for 50 years. In the US, if the recording is protected by copyright then it does not matter if it is in the public domain elsewhere and if the recoding is imported to the US, then it is considered piracy. Yu points out that harmonization has been held back due to the background of copyright law in different countries. He writes that European copyright law developed from an authors’ right (droit d’auteur) tradition, which includes personal and economic rights while US copyright law emerged from a utilitarian tradition which emphasizes economic rights over personal rights. The US and Europe also differ on moral rights as Yu writes. In Europe, an author, not a copyright holder, has a right to claim authorship and can prevent the use of the name as the author of any work not created by the author. The author also has the right to prevent any damage to his or her reputation. This protection as Yu notes is not available in the US except in instances of visual arts. Yu writes that the Court in Eldred embraced the idea and need to harmonize US copyright law with other countries’ copyright law but it deferred to Congress and Congress has a strong interest in intellectual property, causing it to grant stronger protection than other countries.
This article that comes from a book that Yu is planning on publishing, helps oppose the reasons behind why Congress passed the CTEA. This is crucial to my argument because it questions the Congress and their desires to pass the CTEA. This article opposes a different argument that Congress made in support of harmonization, which is an argument that I make in my paper in support of the CTEA.
James Boyle, an advocate for the public domain, writes in his first chapter, the importance of intellectual property and how it is supposed to not only create incentives for innovation but also to create feedback that, “dictates the contours of information and innovation production”. Boyle recognizes that copyright law is intended to allow an artist to make a living if their works are able to be protected by copyright, however, the extent of the copyright is what he critiques. He writes, “the rights that were supposed to be limited in time and scope to the minimum monopoly necessary to ensure production become instead a kind of perpetual corporate welfare- restraining the next generation of creators instead of encouraging them”. Boyle believes that the extension of copyright is in the favor of large corporations who wish to seek profit rather than seek creation, which is the basis for the copyright law. He continues to write that he believes that the goal of the system (protection laws as a whole) should be monopolized only as long enough to provide incentives and then should be released into the public domain so that the public can benefit as well. He also points out that for most owners make all the money they will receive within five or ten years and that the remaining years are of little use. Another point Boyle also makes is that there are many works that have unidentified copyright owners or owners that just cannot be found which can be difficult for libraries who need permission to reproduce that material and therefore cannot if they cannot find the owner. This he believes is harmful to the public and does not allow them access to something that one may have permission to use but simply cannot get that permission due to the lack of information about the owner. Boyle argues that the extension of copyright law was lengthened without any evidence that it would encourage innovation.
James Boyle’s argument for the protection of the public domain is convincing and it is convincing as my opposing argument for my paper. He provides an argument unlike other arguments that I have found because he not only discusses the corporate perspective but also the length of time that an owner actually receives payment for his work under copyright law. His argument is important to my paper because it provides a counter-argument that is strong and concise.
This article explains the problems of converging such laws as copyrights laws and trademark laws in terms of defining whether or not characters can be protected by these laws. These characters can be protected because they take on a life of their own, however the extent of the protection is in question. With regard to copyright, copyright doctrines of the idea/expression dichotomy and fair use are of importance. Helfand writes, “owners and creators seek to wrap their fictional characters in a net of invulnerability- a net created through an artful interweaving of copyright, trademark and unfair competition laws”, and it is this protection which allows large corporations to profit off of characters. Helfand’s main argument is that the courts have merged its tests, reasoning and language used in determining infringement, in order to arrive at a single approach to recognizing character infringement rather than separating each approach. This he believes, if it goes unchecked, will “dilute the significance of a limited copyright term and hence make fewer characters available for ‘unauthorized’ expressive uses”. He goes on to express that the goals of trademark and unfair competition law no longer become used the way they were intended to be used and that it focuses it solely on whether or not characters are similar, or if a character’s reputation is harmed by the unauthorized use rather than looking at the likelihood of consumer confusion. With regard to Mickey Mouse, Helfand touches on the Walt Disney Productions vs. Air Pirates case, noting that Mickey Mouse is the story being told which called for the mingling of the elements of copyright infringement with trademark infringement because Mickey Mouse has “achieved a high degree of ‘recognition’ and ‘identification’”.
This article is important to my paper because it questions not the extension of the copyright act, which I have already touched on in other articles, but expresses the importance of keeping boundaries between different types of protection laws. If these laws continue to be merged and lack identifying main causes for such laws, then characters such as Mickey Mouse will continue to be protected in all ways which will continue to further it’s time spent under protection laws including copyright laws rather than entering the public domain. This argument is in opposition to my thesis and provides a different perspective.
The Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, which is also known as the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act as well as the Mickey Mouse Protection Act, extends the copyright terms in the United States by 20 years. Before this act, the law lasted for the life of an author plus fifty years or seventy-five years for corporations. Now, the copyright lasts for the life of an author plus seventy years of ninety-five years for corporations. In 1998, Disney representatives came to Washington looking for help in order to protect Mickey Mouse from going into the public domain in 2003.
This is the act in question for my argument. Disney wanted to protect their creation of Mickey Mouse and prohibit it from entering the public domain, so they called for the CTEA. Congress and President Clinton, who received lavish donations from Disney, signed the act in 1998. Whether or not the act should be upheld is the question I argue in my paper.
These excerpts of the reasons why Congress extended the copyright term shows that these reasons are consistent with previous copyright extension acts that have been granted. One reason is that Congress recognized a number of public policy reasons for enacting such an act. It points out that Senator Orrin Hatch, pointed out that the reasons for passing the act “paralleled those that led Congress to adopt the life-plus-50 year copyright term in 1976”. These reasons include “harmonizing with the European Union and Strengthening the United States Balance of Payments”. If United States copyright owners used works in Europe, it could only be protected if the US term was similar to that of the EU, which is the author’s life plus 70 years. Therefore this was a reason behind the CTEA. Other reasons include: to encourage investment in existing copyrighted works, fair provisions for authors’ descendants and encouragement for the creation of new works.
The last reason given by Congress to pass CTEA holds important weight in my argument. Petitioners argue that the CTEA does not promote new creation, however, it was in the minds of Congress that the CTEA would indeed promote new creation. One creator in particular, Alan Menken testified that providing for one’s family is important during and after one’s life. If copyright would not help to provide for one’s family for an extended period of time, then a creator like Menken would have to stop creating and find employment elsewhere which would not promote creation of new works but actually inhibit it. This reason helps to argue why the CTEA should be supported rather than opposed. With regard to Mickey Mouse, protecting his creation can help Disney create new stories, images, and several ways of using Mickey Mouse.
This transcript is of the oral arguments made by Lawrence Lessig, counsel for Eldred and Theodore Olson, counsel for the respondent. Lessig, notes that he has come to court in order to challenge Congress’s 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, which has extended the term by 20 years. He argues that is violates the 1st Amendment and that this case is about limits to an enumerated power and “it is not about the general power of Congress to exercise its copyright authority”. Justice O’Connor at first has some doubt about the case because the issue of extension has been passed several times by Congress. Lessig agrees with O’Connor stating that he and the petitioners believe that all copyright extension acts have violated the Constitution. Justice Souter questions Lessig and states that Lessig’s argument is based on the possibility of a “kind of causal connection between the extension and the promotion or inducement for the creation of some subsequent work”, however Justice Souter questions why that must be the more plausible reading of the Promotion Clause. Lessig responds by saying that this is a case about limits. Throughout the transcript, the Justices question Lessig on the arguments he makes as to why he is bringing this case before the court and why or why not it should be accepted by the Justices. Olson, on the other hand, argues that Congress has passed several extension acts and that the CTEA is consistent with the previous unchallenged acts. In Lessig’s rebuttal, he states that his argument is simple: “that there is no effective limit on Congress’s power under the Copyright Clause” which is unconstitutional.
This transcript envelops the very essence of my paper. This case is the most important case in deciding the constitutionality of extending copyright law and why arguments have been made against such an act as in the case of Eldred vs. Ashcroft. The 1998 Act protects everything that has been under copyright law for 20 more years, something that the petitioners argue is unconstitutional because it puts no limit on the time of a copyright law which is clearly noted in the Copyright Clause. This transcript is the crux of my paper.
tagged ashcroft ctea eldred by holzberg ...on 26-NOV-08
Edward Samuels argues that the extension of copyright law is not a result of a scheme by corporations to cheat the public but rather a part of a system that the framers of the Constitution had in mind in order to “promote the progress of science and useful arts” by “securing, for limited times, to authors, and inventors, and the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries”. Samuels identifies six categories of the public domain, which have all supported the expansion of copyright. Samuels writes that, “In all six areas, the public domain advocates were making arguments against the tide; they lamented the expansion of copyright but could hardly claim that the public domain analysis had in fact already worked its way into dominant copyright theory”. Samuels notes that protectionists of the act try and justify the copyright law based upon natural rights, moral rights and property rights, all of which public domain advocates argue in objection to heavily, however, Samuels argues that the natural rights and property rights are “firmly rooted in copyright history” and that it is recognized as the basis for copyright protection in civil law and outer countries outside of England and the US. Samuels goes on in his article to discuss the Eldred case and argues for the support of the case. He notes that the D.C Circuit Court concluded, “Copyrights are categorically immune from challenges under the First Amendment”. The petitioners of copyright extension argue that the premise of CTEA violated the “limited Times” provision of the Copyright Clause and that Congress can only grant rights in the case that it will promote the creation of new works. They argue that the extension act of 1998 is unconstitutional, but Samuels then asks if that is unconstitutional, are all other proceeding acts unconstitutional as well and therefore have no stopping point. Therefore, Samuels argues, the Supreme Court should not endorse any approach the petitioners present.
This article is important to my topic because it discusses the rationale behind opposing or supporting the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, the premise of my paper. Samuels outlines the arguments that advocates of the public domain may make including that of the restriction of creativity and he then argues why the advocates arguments do not hold and why the act should be upheld, an act that protects Mickey Mouse.
Bob Levin’s article “Disney’s War Against the Counterculture” describes the case of Disney vs. O’Neill. Dan O’Neill, a cartoonist created two cartoons along with Ted Richards, Bobby London and Gary Hallgren. They called themselves the Air Pirates, after a group of evildoers who had bedeviled Mickey Mouse in the 1930’s. O’Neill has said that the purpose of creating the cartoons was to “buck corporate thinking. We just didn’t like bullshit”. The first cover was of Mickey Mouse piloting an airplane with two sacks in the plane labeled “Dope”. The second cover was of Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse on horseback being confronted by a man with a gun in one hand and a sack of “Dope” in the other hand. Lawyers on behalf of Disney brought suit against the Air Pirates, accusing them of copyright infringement, trademarked infringement, unfair competition, intentional interference with business and trade disparagement through the wrongful use of the characters. The court allowed a restraining order to bar the Air Pirates from any further production and later obtained an injunction. The defense tried to legitimize what they had done and called themselves parodists such as Shakespeare and said they were not trying to pass on their work as a Disney product. They also argued that characters cannot be copyrighted and that they were protected under the 1st Amendment. Judge Wollenberg decided in the favor of Disney citing that Mickey Mouse is a character that constitutes what is being told and that O’Neill admitted to copying Mickey exactly. The 9th Circuit upheld Wollenberg’s decision and the Supreme Court refused to hear the case.
This article and this case is important in understanding the importance of copyright in the case of Mickey Mouse. If Mickey Mouse were not protected under copyright, then O’Neill and the rest of Air Pirates would be able to do whatever they wanted with Mickey Mouse and whatever other characters are not protected by copyright law. If Mickey Mouse were in the public domain, then people would be able to harm the image of Mickey Mouse as O’Neill clearly did and tarnish a reputation that Walt Disney has put tremendous time and resources into upholding. Mickey Mouse and his stories target an innocent audience of children. The defaming images that O’Neill created showed Mickey in an unfavorable light and if the decision did not favor Disney, then Disney’s reputation as well as economic well being could have been damaged forever. My paper distinctly addressed the reasons behind why protecting Mickey Mouse is important rather than allowing him into the public domain.