The Walt Disney Company’s fall from American family-values entertainment icon to embattled gay-activist group has been sudden and stunning.
The company’s woke reaction to Florida’s new “Don’t Say Gay” law, as the law’s opponents have named it, has cost the company billions of dollars and an incalculable amount of good will, and now Disney could lose its copyright to Mickey Mouse if a top Republican senator has his way.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) rolled out legislation on May 10 that would limit Disney’s copyright protection for its near-sacred cartoon rodent to 56 years, reports The New York Post. The proposed legislation comes just weeks after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a measure to strip Disney of its autonomous, self-governing status in regard to its parks and resorts in and around Orlando.
Hawley’s Copyright Clause Restoration Act would retroactively affect Disney’s copyright to the original design of Mickey Mouse, first seen nearly a hundred years ago in Steamboat Willie, an animated short from 1928. At the time Steamboat Willie came out, Disney’s copyright for Mickey Mouse was protected for 56 years. The copyright was to expire in 1984, but Disney lobbied the federal government to pass the Copyright Act of 1976 and got the protection extended for 75 years. Disney lobbied for another extension of copyright in 1998 and the federal government granted ownership for 95 years.
With the next copyright deadline in 2024, top GOP officials are saying they won’t support another extension because of Disney’s now-overt political activism. The company would still hold the copyright for other versions of Mickey, however, including the sorcerer mouse from Fantasia.
“The age of Republican handouts to Big Business is over,” Hawley said in a statement. “Thanks to special copyright protections from Congress, woke corporations like Disney have earned billions while increasingly pandering to woke activists.”