Tuesday October 04, 2022

Josh Hawley wants Disney to be punished by restoring copyright law to 1909, and that is a suck.

I was asked to blog about Senator Josh Hawley’s new copyright bill. I did this with the greatest hesitation. I love to talk about copyright! Copyright is something I love to talk about all day! [Ed note] She does. Writing this post is painful, as the thought of giving attention to this absurd piece of legislation is killing me inside. This bill is extremely stupid. It contains no line that would pass the test of a jury. It is in violation of the Constitution and insults the democratic process.
The bill targets the Walt Disney Company, also known by
A person who (i) has a greater than $150,000,000,000 market capitalization; and (iii)(I), is classified under North American Industry Classification System Code 5121 or 71; (II), engages in substantial activities to which a subclause (I), could be assigned.
The bill would establish copyright terms of 28 years for all works moving forward, with a possibility of renewal of another 28 years. Except for copyrights owned and maintained by Walt Disney Company (aka, the person with a market capitalization exceeding $150 billion). Retroactively, the 28-year term would be applied to Disney and would strip it of all intellectual property assets that go back to Steamboat Willie.
The Copyright Act of 1909 gave 28-year terms for copyright. Similar to the Copyright Act of 1909, the requirement for a request for an extension was dropped. It was also an outdated legal procedure that was obviated by the Berne Convention of 1988. This treaty, which is an international copyright treaty, was further rescinded by future law. International law also prohibits a reduction in copyright terms to 28 year.
Hawley’s bill, in other words, is a joke. This is because I think copyright law is too restrictive and copyright terms too long. The last extension of copyright terms should not have been allowed in 1998. Disney’s activism towards that end is also reprehensible. This bill is not intended to stimulate thoughtful discussion or pass Congress.
Would you like to see copyright terms lowered? Absolutely! Would you like to see our representatives challenge megacorporations? Yes! Would I be happy for legislators to make big swings to push the Overton windows on tech policy? Hell yes!
Hawley is now cribbing his copyright policies from 1909. Is he requesting that we return to shitting in buckets?
This is not a radical overhaul of copyright. It is a form of regression, a fart, a fart in a wind, an empty gesture for a future fundraising email. All this because Disney is the latest victim of a Republican party whose rabid homophobia wouldn’t look out of place back in 1909.
While legislators have long pushed bills they knew wouldn’t go anywhere, the effort required to make them work has fallen. Hawley doesn’t care about the issue and isn’t even trying. That’s all there is to know about Hawley’s copyright bill.

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