Ongoing U.S. Copyright Extensions

by Michael Hart on March 13, 2010

Can anything be done to stop the next U.S. extension or If not stop them, at least publicize them a little?

I should add that this is probably a losing battle even if it looks as if we are winning.

Here’s why:

When the last Australian Copyright Act was discussed in Parliament, they passed a resolution stating they would not extend copyrights.


However, just three years later, under economic warfare from, shall we just say, outside sources, they crumbled to the pressure and gave in.

The Canadian Parliament is currently in that position–and while some tell me they have enough signatures from those against any extensions, I will bet you lunch that they, too, crumble before it is over.

I would gladly lose every one of those wagers!!!

Further Information

As you may already know, any time the copyrights in the characters Winnie the Pooh [1926], or The Mouse [1928], start coming close to expiration The U.S. Congress will be sure to start a very quiet frenzy of copyright bills that are designed to go into effect before anything can happen to those two copyrights.

As I understand it, Disney® made a huge lobby effort, successful, to create the 1976 U.S. Copyright Act; paid as a result an additional $200 million for the right to another 20 years of Winnie the Pooh, and still made the fabled laughing trip to the bank as a result, since the effective date of 1978.

As a result I have to imagine their sales of The Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, etc., must have been predicted to be so terribly large as to devour Avatar’s gross.

Given that next bill passed right in the middle of what must have been the busiest day in Congress for the last few decades, the impeachment of President Clinton, this means we should expect something of equal secrecy quite soon, as the current copyright extension runs out 2018.

Usually they would make an effort to pass the new one a session or two early, such as in 2016, but given that a snag or two has hit before, we should probably look out starting in 2015, though it will be hard to see.


Even during the election just before the last extension I went to ask televised press conference questions on a new U.S. Copyright Act I had heard about, but candidate responses were uniform…”I know nothing.”

I would have to expect that even if the big anchors ask the same question in 2015 they will get that answer.

Or non-answer.

From what I have heard there is an ever larger movement to keep everything copyrighted permanently, and to make all media as pay-per-view as possible, to the points of making all broadcast television pay-per-view on a first viewing premise [except public stations].

We are very likely to see a dissolving out boundaries–cable products showing up on network television and the opposite direction as well.

What else CAN we expect when Comcast cable has been the allowed buyer of NBC?

If you think programming won’t leak over:

Consider what happened when Disney took over ABC.

Not only did Disney flood ABC with their own programmed output, but they killed off the best of all cartoons.

Anyone remember Reboot?

I can put you in touch with many copyright experts, and I fear that all of them underestimate the power working to make copyright permanent, in spite of the fact words “limited time” are the U.S. Constitution’s description.

However, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that limited is really unlimited in “Eldred v Ashcroft.”

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Laurel L. Russwurm April 2, 2010 at 2:20 pm

Yes, I remember ReBoot. I never understood how such an excellent and innovative series could possibly have been cancelled– until now. I have only recently become aware of copyright issues; like many people I wasn’t even aware I had an opinion until I sat down to write my submission for the Canadian Copyright Consultation last fall. I’m a writer who firmly believes that long copyright terms harm creators as well as culture. (Royalties paid me after I’ve been dead seventy years aren’t likely to increase my productivity.) I’m inclined to think 5 years would probably do it.

I wanted to mention that Canada hasn’t caved to “the copyright lobby” quite yet, and in fact may not. (Fingers crossed). The Canadian arts are currently experiencing a “golden age”– thanks to internet distribution– so many Canadian artists have emancipated themselves from the constraints of oppressive distributors and arts quotas. 30% of our music recording industry is currently made up of independents. Tightening Canadian copyright laws would damage the Canadian arts industry. We are especially fortunate to have a minority government, especially as more and more people become aware of these issues. But if A.C.T.A. goes through the whole world will be stuck.

I wanted to thank you folks for Project Gutenberg. I plug PG every chance I get because I am personally so grateful for the work you do. We live in an age where every piece of art, every, song, movie, TV series, every book could easily be preserved. Instead so much art and culture is locked away because of greed. Even worse, a great deal of it will be lost — like so many of the works of Frances Hodgson Burnett, say.