CNN is running an interesting article about how Disney is getting sued for copyright violation. At stake is the royalties to the Peter Pan prequel “Peter and the Starcatchers”. The basic premise of the lawsuit is this, Great Ormond Street Hospital in England was given the copyright, and thus the royalties, to Peter Pan in 1929 by the author J.M. Barrie. Barrie then died in 1937, meaning that under US law his work is protected until 2023. At least so the hospital claims. Disney meanwhile says that the copyright expried prior to 1998, the last time they savaged the public domain.
The difference is this. 1929+75 years = 2004, which why Disney says that Peter Pan is now public domain. However, with the Sonny Bono act, it’s now lifetime of author + 75 years, which puts it significantly later. Did Disney shoot themselves in the foot with this one?
The thing that makes Disney really suck is that once again they’re raping the public domain and trying to force other works into the public domain, while not allowing their work to ever enter. I have to wonder if the Disney lawyers have done a benefit-cost analysis on this whole issue. The amount of money they’re making from ancient Mickey Mouse stuff has got to be minimal. In any case, at the rate that Disney bribes idiot lawmakers, there won’t be any real public domain left in a few years and they’ll go bankrupt. I mean, it’s not like many of their new ventures have exactly been successful.