Copyright extension

Until the 20th century, works of art both great and small typically went from being owned by their creators to being owned by no one – or, perhaps more accurately, to being owned by everyone. In the public domain, a movie, song, or book can be reprinted or utilized by anyone at any time, without needing permission. But when the mid-1970s rolled around and the copyright to original Mickey Mouse cartoon Steamboat Willie was about to expire, Disney lobbied hard to secure a copyright extension that delayed the expiration of Steamboat (and tons of other non-Disney works) for years after their originally intended time.

We’re now approaching another deadline. If studios don’t plan to lobby Congress this year to pass another extension, then every book, film, and song published in 1923 will enter the public domain on January 1, 2019. What might that mean for Hollywood? Read More »