Media Coverage

  About Term Extension | Constitutionality | Commentary  
  Public Domain | Letters | Congress | Statutes and Treaties  
Legislative Materials | Other Sites | International Developments
 Opposing Copyright Extension Home Page  

 

 

IMPORTANT MEDIA COVERAGE OF TERM EXTENSION

 

AP stories on the Supreme Court's decision in Eldred by Gina Holland in the Boston Globe and the Miami Herald.  Andrea Foster also has a report in the Chronicle of Higher Education.  The New York Times editorially laments the Court's decision on Jan. 16, 2003 (this is only an excerpt, for the full editorial).

Declan McCullagh, Left gets nod from right on copyright law, CNET News.com, Nov. 20, 2002.  Reporting Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner's public criticism of recent expansions of intellectual property rights, including the Sonny Bono Act: "These rights keep expanding without any solid information about why they're socially beneficial." 

Amy Harmon, An Uphill Battle in Copyright Case, N.Y. Times, Oct. 14, 2002

Kevin Kelly, Making My Own Music, N.Y. Times, Oct. 12, 2002, argues that the passion of fans and movie buffs will result in far more restoration and digitalization than extended copyrights would engender, as evidenced already by the number of books, music, and films from the public domain that are available on the internet.

Abusing copyright power, Supreme Court should free the Mouse, editorial, Sacramento Bee, Oct. 11, 2002

An Abuse of Copyright, Editorial, N.Y. Times, Oct. 11, 2002.  

Marsha Stopa's article MADISON HEIGHTS - They probably won't call it Luck v. Mickey Mouse, The Oakland Press, Sept. 21, 2002, discusses the CTEA in general, with emphasis on its effect on Luck's Music Library, a publisher of classical sheet music and one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. 

David Streitfeld, The Cultural Anarchist vs. the Hollywood Police State, L.A.  Times, Sept. 22, 2002, discusses in interesting detail the background of the Eldred case and Professor Larry Lessig, who is leading the cause of the constitutional challenge.

Term Limits for Copyrights, Forbes Magazine, Fact and Comment, April 29, 2002 (free registration required).  Publisher Steve Forbes says that there is "no justification" for what Congress has been doing and that the Supreme Court should "knock down" the Sonny Bono Act.

Alan K. Ota, Building Bridges Between Hollywood and Congress, CQ Weekly, Aug. 8, 1998.  Lobbying activities of the MPAA and Jack Valenti.

Alan K. Ota, Disney in Washington:  The Mouse That Roared, CQ Weekly, Aug. 8, 1998.  Describes some of the Disney lobbying activities, especially those leading to the adoption of the Sonny Bono Act.

THE MOUSE THAT ATE THE PUBLIC DOMAIN: Disney, The Copyright Term Extension Act, and Eldred V. Ashcroft, by Chris Sprigman, Findlaw, Mar. 5, 2002.  Good, readable article on the issues in the constitutional challenge and some of the political background of the Sonny Bono Act.

Setting Boundaries on Copyrights, by Kendra Mayfield, Wired News, Feb. 20, 2002, discusses the constitutional challenge to the Sonny Bono Act.  It gives many examples of how the CTEA is preventing restoration of films and the dissemination of out-of-print books.

Comment: Copyright, Unfair Use, Wall Street Journal, Feb 21, 2002.  Urges the Supreme Court to overturn the Sonny Bono Act.  To do otherwise  "will do nothing more than create an ever-growing cartel of intellectual property that will stifle the continuing growth and spread of ideas."

Conductors Pose First Challenge to Copyright Law, by David Horrigan, National Law Journal, Nov. 27, 2001.  Discusses the costs to orchestras of performing music on which copyright was "restored" by the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (under challenge in Golan v. Ashcroft; see the Challenge to Constitutionality page hereof).

Mickey Mouse threatens to block all ideas in future, by John Naughton, The Observer, Feb. 24, 2002, notes that this case is not just "a row about cartoon characters, but in fact it goes right to the heart of what makes a creative society tick."

 Breyer Seen as Key Justice on Copyright Issue, by Victoria Slind-Flor, National Law Journal, February 25, 2002, at law.com, suggests that Justice Breyer long-time interest and considerable knowledge of copyright law may have led the Court to take the case.  Various lawyers on both sides of the issue are quoted.

Supreme Court to Weigh in On Copyright Laws, by Gina Holland, Washington Post, Feb. 19, 2002, gives views of anti-CTEA professors Larry Lessig and Mark Lemley and pro-CTEA defenses of the bill by Solicitor General Theodore Olson.

US copyright review shocks Hollywood, BBC News, Feb. 20, 2002, includes some quotes from Professor Jonathan Zittrain, another of the lead attorneys in the case.

 Supreme Court to hear copyright law challenge, Hiawatha Bray, Boston Globe, Feb. 20, 2002, discusses the issues in the case, with some background on Eric Eldred.

Case Could Shift Balance in Debate on Public Domain, Amy Harmon, New York Times, Feb. 20, 2002.  Looks at the issues involved in the case before the Supreme Court.

'Limitless' Copyright Case Faces High Court Review , David G. Savage, L.A. Times, Feb. 20, 2002.

Copyright dictators are winning out, by Dan Gillmor, San Jose Mercury News, Feb. 19, 2002, strongly supports the constitutional challenge.

Mickey Mouse vs. The People, Damien Cave interviews Eric Eldred, February 21, 2002, at Salon.com

Studios May Have the Most to Lose, by Henry Weinstein, Ann W. O'Neill and Meg James, L.A. Times, Feb. 21, 2002.  This article discusses some of the implications of the Supreme Court's upcoming decision.

Justices to Review Copyright Extension, by Linda Greenhouse, New York Times, February 19, 2002

Is Congress Mickey Mouse-ing With Copyrights?, Gayle Horwitz, Legal Timess, Feb. 11, 2002, discussing the case prior to the Supreme Court's grant of cert with Larry Lessig, lead attorney for the plaintiffs challenging the constitutionality of the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998.

Why Copyright Laws Hurt Culture, by Karlin Lillington, Wired News, Nov. 27, 2001, discusses a talk by Larry Lessig at the Darklight Digital Film Festival. 

Drawing a line on copyright, St. Petersburg Times, August 21, 2001, argues that the Supreme Court should hear "a lawsuit that has so far failed to put a limit on the excesses of current copyright law."

Copyright Craziness, Washington Post, August 17, 2001,  describes the decision by the D.C. Circuit and urges the Supreme Court to take the time to examine the issue, because "Congress's repeated extensions of protection to copyright holders have shredded any meaningful limit."

  MIC ... you real soon ... k-e-y ... by Jim Slotek, appeared in the November 1, 1998, Toronto Sun, shortly after the CTEA was adopted by Congress.  A sardonic treatment of how Disney and other media companies benefit at the expense of human authors from copyright term extension.

    Copyright's Crusader, by Daren Fonda, Boston Globe Magazine, August 29, 1999.  A recent extensive and very readable article on the background of the Eldred case challenging the constitutionality of term extension is .  He also supplies information on how much the media companies have contributed to the political war chests of key congressional players, such as the members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.

   Mickey's Mine! by Brigid McMenamin in the August 23, 1999 issue of Forbes.  This short article points out that the CTEA helps only the big media companies like Disney and Time Warner, not current authors.   It includes a table showing a few popular works, when their copyrights would have expired under the old law, and some of the uses to which such works are being put by the current copyright owners (and some of the royalty fees they are garnering).

   Rhapsody in Green by John Solomon appeared in the January 3, 1999, issue of Boston Globe Art & Commerce section.  This article gives an excellent description of the issues involved and the legislative tactics of the term extension supporters. 

    Letter of Gerald Nachman dated February 25, 1995, to the New York Times commenting on the proposal to extend the copyright term and objecting to copyright as a welfare measure for the heirs of creative authors.  It includes many examples showing how authors' estates often use copyright to censor the use of culturally valuable works, rather than promote the dissemination of our cultural heritage.  Short and readable!

    The Chicago Tribune reported in an Associated Press article dated October 17, 1998, on the intense lobbying efforts of Disney to insure the adoption of copyright term extension. 

      Mouse Droppings, a Washington Post report dated October 15, 1998, describing some of the last minute legislative maneuverings, including contributions by Disney to the campaign chests of the Republican party and individual members of Congress, such as Majority Leader Trent Lott. 

    The New York Times in a Februrary 21, 1998, editorial entitled "Keeping Copyright in Balance" came out strongly against copyright term extension:  "There is no justification for extending the copyright term," says the paper.  "So far, Congress has heard no representatives of the public domain. It has apparently forgotten that its own members are meant to be those representatives." 

    The Washington Post on April 27, 1998 also editorialized against copyright term extension, referring to the fruits of these old but valuable copyrights as "Golden Eggs."  The editorial points out that it is heavyweights like Disney, the recording industry, and the Motion Picture Association of America that are backing the extension.  The editorial concludes, "Why lengthen the duration of rights already so sweeping?  Fifty years seems long enough." 

     Disney's Copyright Conundrum by Alex Berenson appeared in The Street on May 8, 1998, and has been picked up by ABC News. (The link here is to the ABC News web site.)  The article discusses both sides of the term extension issue, including speculation of potential losses to Disney if Mickey and his friends go into the public domain, plus a discussion of the ongoing trademark that Disney would continue to hold.  Many of the arguments of the proponents would be almost pitiful if they weren't backed by so much money and power.  For example, Rich Taylor of the Motion Picture Association of America is quoted as saying, "We're trying to get an environment for American creators in which they get an environment where they get the same protection that's currently enjoyed by European creators."  Not only is this almost unintelligible.  American creators of today get very strong and very long protection--until 50 years after their deaths or 75 years for corporate "authors" like Disney.  Term extension would not aid creators of today, but rather the descendants and assignees of creators from yesteryear whose copyrights are about to expire.  Eliminate the extension for existing works and the support for term extension would dry up and blow away!  The term is already so long that adding years provides no additional incentive to current authors.  NYU Law Professor Rochelle Dreyfuss is quoted extensively in the article, pointing out that public domain status has not ruined Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny and that the purpose of copyright to promote the progress of knowledge and culture would be better served by Disney's creation of ever new works and characters (which, of course, Disney is doing, but it wants to hold on to the cultural icons that its creative employees produced in the past, all the while taking from the public domain for its own new works, like the Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Little Mermaid, Pocahontas, and Mulan).  Take a look!  

   A March 28, 1998 article entitled "Immortal Words, Immortal Royalties? Even Mickey Mouse Joins the Fray" in the culture section, page A13, of the New York Times by Dinitia Smith is also a very important contribution to the ongoing debate.  She points out how the Founding Fathers sought to allow free public access to works or art and literature after a "limited time" of protection, but "this is not how things have happened," citing the numerous term extensions in the past, most recently in 1976.  She points out that millions of dollars are at stake for large corporations like Disney and private parties like the Gershwin Family Trust.  She also gives examples of how descendants of creative authors act as thought police (my term, not Ms. Smith's) in refusing to license uses that they consider "debase" the work.   Reader Commentary was published in the Times on April 5, 1998. 

    An article entitle When Is Art Free? by Gail Russell Chaddock appeared in the June 11, 1998, issue of the Christian Science Monitor.  This article gives an excellent presentation of both sides of the argument concerning term extension.  (Of course, the proponents hardly have a side to argue, but they do their best.   For example, Frit Attaway, identified as the Washington general counsel for the Motion Picture Association of America is quoted as saying, "As the world's leader in producing copyrighted works, it would be unseemly, and just plain unthinkable, for the US to lag behind other nations in protecting its copyright industry."  The question is, however, just what is the "copyright industry"?  Is it current authors, who are contributing to our highly favorable balance of trade and need a rich public domain on which to build, or is it simply the heirs and assignees of old copyrights that are about to expire?  It is the latter group that is behind the politics of term extension.)  Related articles in the same issue of the CSM are Some Artistic Works About to Lose Copyright and Who Owns It?   Take a look at these articles--these links are direct to the CSM web page.   How does term extension help the descendants of Sergei Prokofiev or Buddy Holly?  According to the last cited CSM article, Disney owns the copyright to "Peter and the Wolf," and McCartney Productions owns the copyright to "That'll Be the Day"! 

      Another important article appeared as an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times on April 25, 1998, by Steve Zeitlin entitled Strangling Culture with a Copyright Law.   This is an excellent summary of the public interest issues involved in term extension, especially for folklorists and folk artists.  A must read!  Mr. Zeitlin quotes Woody Guthrie as saying it would be the greatest honor of his life if his song "Union Maid" would go so completely into the cultural landscape that it was not even associated with him.  He also quotes Pete Seeger as saying, "The grandchildren should be able to find some other way to make a living, even if their grandfather did write 'How Much is that Doggie in the Window."  Take a look! 

   One of the first articles attempting to bring this issue into public view was John Horn's February 2, 1998  piece for the Associated Press. Excerpts were published all over the world and picked up by a number of U.S. papers, but that did not help bring the issue up for public discussion in Congress. 

Internationallyl, two articles by Ahmad Sayuthi discuss the term extension battle in the U.S. and the public domain in general in the context of Malaysia's comprehensive review of its intellectual property legislation and enforcement:  Lords of the Intellectual Property Ring and Battles of the Public Domain, May 10, 2005 (thanks to Tim Phillips for pointing these out to me).

 

  About Term Extension | Constitutionality | Commentary | Public Domain | Letters | Congress  
 International Developments | Statutes and Treaties | Legislative Materials | Other Sites | Home Page