Disney characters copyrights extended by Congress?

I heard somewhere that the copyrights on the popular Disney characters was about to run out, then a bill was rushed through Congress (or the House) to extend the copyrights because Mickey Mouse and all are such American icons that they deserved protection from people wanting to make gay cartoon porn with Mickey and Donald and all, or something.

Anyone else hear of this?

Sounds like an urban legend. Disney has no reason to extend their copyrights. That’s because Mickey, Donald, etc. are all trademarks, which means they won’t expire until Disney want them to (i.e., after the heat death of the universe).

Some of the very early Disney comic strips are actually in the public domain, and someone tried to reprint them. Disney couldn’t win on copyright violation, but they did nail the publisher on trademark violation. The judge was kind and let the publisher sell what he already printed, but the precedent was set to that printing any PD Disney works is a trademark violation.

Not an urban legend.
Actually happened in October of 1998.

Extension of copyrights from 75 years to 95 years. This applies to all Copyrights, not just Disney. Original expirations for some of the Disney Caracters were to start in 2003.

This also increased copyright protection of individuals from 50 years after death to 70 years.

Alot of money from lobbiest flowed on this one. Rational was that this put the U.S. on equal footing with the Europeans who exteneded by 20 years in 1995.

The copyright extension is a fact, though the idea that it was just for Disney is an urban legend.

Mickey is trademarked, and trademarks don’t run out. If a Disney cartoon went into PD, you could only show it if you don’t violate the trademark – i.e., no trademark characters could appear. So you’d have to erase every image of Mickey (or Donald or Pluto, etc.) in the Mickey Mouse cartoon. Doesn’t leave you with much.

When Disney sued Bobby London about the porn Mickey and Minnie comic strip he wrote, they did it under trademark infringement, not copyright infringement. London might have won a copyright infringement suit, basing it on the right to use a parody.

So the Disney rumor is a common type of UL – taking a few facts and elaborating on them.