EXPIRING COPYRIGHTS MAY PUT MICKEY IN PUBLIC DOMAIN.
Copyrights on Walt Disney's earliest cartoons have begun to expire, and barring an act of Congress, the unthinkable will happen in just five years - the copyright will lapse on the first Mickey Mouse cartoon, sending it into the public domain.
Copyrights on several of Disney's earliest, pre-Mickey Mouse cartoons - films such as ``Puss 'n Boots,'' ``Alice's Wonderland'' and ``Cinderella'' - expired last year or will expire this year, 75 years after they were first copyrighted.
The 1928 copyright on ``Steamboat Willie,'' the first Mickey Mouse cartoon, will lapse in 2003. After that, a flood of early Mickey Mouse films could be swept into the public domain.
By the end of 2004, copyrights on 15 Mickey Mouse cartoons will lapse, including ``Mickey's Folly,'' ``Haunted House'' and ``Wild Waves.'' By the end of 2006, 20 more Mickey cartoons could enter the public domain. Five years later, copyrights on more than 40 other Mickey Mouse cartoons will have lapsed.
Once their copyrights expire, anyone can distribute the films without Disney's permission and without paying a dime in royalties.
That is one reason Disney and the other major studios are trying to convince Congress to extend the nation's copyright term by 20 years. Legislation to that effect stalled in Congress last year, but the studios and the Motion Picture Association of America will try again this year.
``We and many, many other entertainment companies, as well as other creative entities, are strongly urging that Congress extend its copyright terms,'' Disney spokesman Ken Green said.
The MPAA, Disney and other studios are placing their hopes on HR 2589, which is basically the same as HR 898 - the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1997 - which stalled in Congress last year.
Rep. Howard Coble, R.-N.C., who sponsored last year's bill, will also sponsor this year's bill. MPAA officials are hopeful that House Judiciary Committee chairman Henry Hyde will take up the bill once Congress returns from its winter recess.
MPAA spokesman Rich Taylor said the extension would bring U.S. copyright law more in line with the European Union.
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|Title Annotation:||L.A. LIFE|
|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Jan 30, 1998|
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