So is Mickey Mouse's copyright up or not?

This might be true, but other lawyers are arguing that the decision gives Congress effective license to set indefinite periods, because all they have to do is set a new “limited period” every 20 or 50 or whatever years. Having extended the copyright on all this stuff, they can simply revisit the issue when that extension runs out.

Dissenting Justice Breyer noted the effect that the Act would have when he

Also, given that the ostensible reason for extending the copyright was to serve as an incentive for artists etc. to create such works, it is interesting that the two dissenting justices, Breyer and Stevens, concluded that Congress’s decision

And not only do corporations enjoy the same rights as individuals in our brave corporate world, they sometimes get special favours when these issues are considered, such as:

In none of these cases do the people involved hold the copyrights. Of course they’re not getting paid. Let me know if Sherwood Schwartz – who wrote and created “Gilligan’s Island” and who owns the copyright – feels the same way.

And if they had been getting paid, making it PD would make sure that was cut off immediately. Thanks a lot, buddy.

Now, ask J.D. Salinger whether he doesn’t want to get paid for “Catcher in the Rye” any more (it’s been 50 years).

If Salinger can get paid for something for 50 years after it’s creation, why is it wrong for a corporation to be paid?

Sure, but at least they can be made to pay. If the work is declared PD, how does that help the IP creators pay their bills?

Complaining that corporations are abusive about copyrights while trying to cut back the copyright term is like complaining that someone is stealing a man’s watch while you’re trying to grab his wallet.

If you use “Hand me a kleenex,” and Kimberly Clark found out about it, you’d get a firm letter from their lawyers reminding you that the name Kleenex is a trademark and to avoid using it that way. They don’t bother to litigate, since sending the letter protects the trademark, but they could if they wanted to. Take a look at Writer’s Digest and see the ads telling writers not to use trademarks incorrectly.

IIRC, it was a suit against Eternity Press for the publication of “The Uncensored Mouse.” Here’s an article:

“Eternity Puts The Uncensored Mouse On Hold” p. 19 (Comics
Journal #130 July 1989)

  1. Eternity Comics. 2. The Uncensored Mouse. 3. Mickey
    Mouse. 4. Disney mice. Call no.: PN6700.C62no.130

Reality Chuck is of course right that your examples are fatally flawed, ftg, but I don’t understand what your point would be even if the people mentioned were the copyright holders. Putting something into the public domain guarantees that the original copyright holder will never see another penny. Or are you trying to say that because these people aren’t getting any money, they want vindictively to deny anybody else from making money? That’s not exactly sound public policy.

The book industry avoids these problems because the writer is the copyright holder, not the publisher. It is an entirely different economic structure. In the tv and movie industries, it is the producer (independently or as a studio) that retains the copyright. That’s why the producers get the Academy Award for Best Film. They are the owners.

Residuals can be negotiated as part of the process, and the various Guilds now routinely make these part of the negotiation process. The reason that residuals were not routinely negotiated 50 years ago is that nobody thought that these products had an afterlife. But this is an argument for the extension of copyright, not against it, because it says that no one can predict when a piece of IP becomes valueless to the orginal copyright holder.

Oh, an a nitpick:

As far as I know, this isn’t true. When the song is used commercially royalties still have to be paid, and they do indeed still make money from the song.

Again, the proper length for copyrights is an issue for debate. (There’s probably one going on in GD right now.) The Supreme Court chose not to get into that debate.

Bad comparison. The actors, writers, directors, etc. worked for hire. They were never the copyright holders. Ask the movie studios who made the films or who curently own the rights.

That’s a royalties issue, not a copyright issue.

The copyright is not going to expire until 2011. If the descendants of the authors aren’t making any money on the copyright, it is perhaps because they long ago sold the copyright of the song. It currently belongs to Warner/Chappell Music Group.

I dunno. I felt for Irving Berlin when “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” fell out of copyright <I>during his lifetime</I>. Still, when Disney owns “Steamboat Willie” and AOL owns “Happy Birthday”, it’s hard to build up much sympathy for an extension. Personally, I liked the concept of “Life plus 25 years” (or some variant) guaranteeing that the actual creator and immediate relatives were protected, but that the work would eventually pass into public domain.

If you’re going to make exceptions, fine, but make them exceptions and don’t screw up the whole system. I wouldn’t mind a way to <I>buy</I> extensions. I’ll let Disney have the mouse as long as it means less taxes for me.