Speed Reads

GOP vs. Disney

Josh Hawley introduces bill that would strip Disney of Mickey Mouse copyright

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) is looking to further escalate Republicans' war with Disney. 

The Republican senator has introduced a bill that would limit new copyright protections to 56 years, a change he said would be "retroactive for the biggest entertainment companies" like "woke" Disney. 

"Under this legislation, Disney would begin to lose protections for some of its oldest and most valuable copyrights," he said.

If passed, the bill would affect Disney's copyright on Mickey Mouse, who was originally introduced in the 1928 short Steamboat Willie. As The Hollywood Reporter explains, Disney first received 56 years of copyright protection for Mickey Mouse but pushed for Congress to pass new copyright laws in the 1970s and 1990s, under which the character will not become public domain until 2024.

Hawley says, though, he wants to "crack down on copyright monopolies to ensure they only last long enough to encourage innovation." 

The bill isn't expected to pass the Senate, but it was the latest example of Republicans targeting Disney after the company came out against Florida's so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) previously stripped Disney of its special self-governing privileges in the state. 

If Disney did lose its copyright, the Reporter notes this would only apply to the original version of Mickey Mouse that appeared in Steamboat Willie. But Stanford Law School intellectual property expert Paul Goldstein told Variety the proposed legislation is a "blatantly unconstitutional taking of property without compensation."