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.