Please explain to me why Walt Disney is able to maintain a copyright on Mickey Mouse for 95 years while the companies discovering the drugs that heal our bodies are only able to maintain their patents for seventeen years?
Every day big pharmaceutical companies are chastised for making large profits. There is not the same outrage about Disney charging $90 for a shirt that should cost $20. Why is Disney allowed to make obscene profits at the hands of the American people and not be a villain?
The United States Constitution gave Congress the power to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries”. In 1790, the first Congress passed the very first Patent Act and the very first Copyright Act. Both of these acts granted to their creator the exclusive right for fourteen years.
Sometime during the Trump administration, there will be a move to amend the copyright law. Disney will ask Congress to allow it to continue to make obscene profits. As a liberty conservative, I am opposed to such an extension. I believe that liberty requires the Copyright Act to be amended. It needs to be amended to reduce the time that a copyright is valid.
Our Founding Fathers did not care if it was a scientific invention or a creative work. The creator or author was only allowed fourteen years of protection. I have yet to hear a good excuse as to why in the last 226 years, our politicians saw fit to expand the term of a patent by 20% but expand copyright protections 680%. Why do the Arts receive greater protections than scientific discoveries?
Returning copyright protections to fourteen years would not stop Disney from making money. Almost every year Disney comes up with a new character which would be copyrighted for the next fourteen years. If people wanted the most recent Disney princess on their t-shirt, Disney will be more than willing to sell it to you at an obscene profit. However, what it does mean is the small mom & pop t-shirt maker would be able to design and sell their own Micky Mouse shirts and sell them for $10. Disney would have to compete. They would have to compete just like pharmaceutical companies are required to compete.
We have a choice in medicine whether we buy generic or name brand drugs. We should have a choice about whether we buy generic Mickey Mouse shirts or Disney licensed apparel. The NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL all make millions of dollars each year on licensed apparel because you will be sued if you try to use a team’s logo on your own product.
If Disney lost its copyright on Mickey Mouse, they no longer could control who does what with their beloved little mouse. However, control and protection are not more important than liberty. The Constitution was not designed to give creative people special protections for almost a century.
The Constitution gave authors and inventors limited protections to make a profit off of their creative works. It is time that the Copyright Act be amended. It should be amended in favor of the American people. Our Founding Fathers were concerned about the liberties of individuals. It is time that Congress start fighting for the liberties of the individual instead of the special interest of big corporations.