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Copyright Term Extension Act

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Copyright Term Extension Act

The Copyright Term Extension Act was passed in 1998 in order to extend copyright terms in America. Before this act was passed, there was only the Copyright Act of 1976 which would only allow a copyright to last a total of 50 years for an individual. It was still different for corporations though, as to where their copyrights would last up to a total of 75 years. The 1998 Act extended the copyrights for individuals to stay valid up to 70 years instead of 50. It also helped corporations to have their copyrights extended from only 75 years to 120. This law is also known as the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, Sonny Bono Act, or the Mickey Mouse Protection Act. Salvatore Phillip “Sonny” Bono was a recording artist, politician, and producer who became famous along with his wife Cher as a singing duo called Sonny & Cher. He was the mayor of Palm Springs, California from 1988 to 1992 and congressman for California’s 44th district from 1995 until his death in 1998. Although this act was passed in 1998, it still allowed additional works made in 1923 or afterwards to be protected under this act until 2019 or later depending on when the product was created. The Copyright Term extension act did not revive any copyrights that had already expired, although it did extend the terms of protection for each copyrighted creation. However, any individuals or corporations work that was created before January 1st, 1978, but hasn’t been published or registered for copyright until recently, are addressed in section 17 U.S.C and will remain protected until the end of 2047. When the Copyright Act was first created in America, the duration was only for 14 years. Today, copyright duration can last over 100 years in some cases. We have Mickey Mouse to thank for this. It all started with Steamboat Willy, the first cartoon that featured Mickey Mouse and the first animated short by Walt Disney which was created in 1928. Under the 1909 Copyright scheme, Mickey Mouse had copyright protection for 56 years including the renewal, which was going to expire in 1984. With the impending loss of copyright on its mascot, Disney is said to have begun serious lobbying push for changes to the Copyright Act. In 1976 Congress authorized a huge overhaul of the copyright system which assured Disney to have their protection extended. Instead of 56 years being the maximum with extensions, individual authors were granted protection for their life plus an additional 50 years which was already what was normal in Europe. For products that were authored by corporations, the 1976 legislation also granted a retroactive extension for any project published before the new system came into place. The maximum term for works that were already published had lengthened from 56 years to 75 years which pushed Mickey Mouse’s protection to 2003. With only 5 years left on Mickey’s copyright term, Congress had once again changed the duration of the Copyright Term Extension act. And as mentioned earlier this act allowed an individual’s copyright to be extended from 50 years to 70 years, and corporation’s copyright to be extended from 75 years to 120 years from the year of creation. This pushed Mickey Mouse’s copyright protection all of the way out to 2023. Disney now only has until 2023 to figure out how to once again extend that date. In a couple years we could probably expect to see stories about changes to copyright duration once again, but for now Mickey Mouse continues to evade the public domain. Works are in the public domain if they were published before 1923, published between 1923 and 1978 without a copyright notice, published between 1978 and March 1st, 1989 without a notice and without subsequent registration, published between 1923 and 1963 with notice but the copyright was not renewed. In conclusion, the Copyright Term Extension Act has helped both companies and individuals keep their amazing, original creations protected by allowing them to continue to prevent their artwork from being stolen or copied. Without the extension act, many corporations’ works would’ve had their copyrights expire, therefore losing their own creations which would prevent us from having the incredible adventures that companies like Disney take us on due to their iconic mascots.
Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonny_Bono http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_Term_Extension_Act http://counsel.cua.edu/fedlaw/ctea.cfm

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2013/10/25/15-years-ago-congress-kept-mickey-mouse-out-of-the-public-domain-will-they-do-it-again/
http://copyrighteous.blogspot.com/2007/06/public-domain-what-is-it.html…...

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