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Copyright © 1998 The Washington Post. I have concluded that
the importance of these views to the ongoing public policy debate and the
noncommercial nature of this web site justify the reprinting of this excerpt
as a fair use under copyright law. Please do not copy for any purpose
other than a fair or otherwise noninfringing use without the permission
of the Washington Post. This piece is excerpted from a longer article
by Washington Post Staff Writer Bill McAllister entitled "A Capital Way
to Stop a Headache," October 15, 1998, p. A21. The longer article also discusses the recent
adoption of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
There were more than the usual mouse tracks around Capitol Hill last
week after the House and Senate completed action on legislation extending
U.S. copyrights for another 20 years. But the Walt Disney Co. had made
certain that key members of the House and Senate especially knew about
the possible plight of Mickey, Pluto and Goofy.
Under existing copyright law, Mickey's copyright will expire in 2003,
Pluto's in 2006 and Goofy's in 2008, and that would end Disney's claim to
royalties on some of the most valuable assets in its movie vaults. So last
summer, Disney imported its chief executive, Michael D. Eisner, to pitch
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and House Speaker Newt
Gingrich (R-Ga.) on extending the copyrights.
"We generally don't talk about our lobbying plans," said Disney spokesman
Thomas J. Deegan, but he acknowledged that Alan K. Ota, a
Congressional Quarterly reporter, had scored a coup when he spotted
Eisner at Lott's office June 9.
Hill staff members said that other Disney representatives, along with other
movie industry representatives, had made strong pleas for a 20-year
extension to all copyrights. And the Center for Responsive Politics noted
that a week after his meeting with Eisner, Lott agreed to co-sponsor the
copyright extension legislation. That same day, Disney's political action
committee made a $1,000 contribution to Lott's campaign committee,
CPR added, and on June 25, Disney gave $20,000 to the National
Republican Senatorial Committee.
It's doubtful, however, that any lawmakers will be taping "I'm Going to
Disney World" TV spots as they depart Washington this week.