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EXCLUSIVE: Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is introducing legislation that would strip the Walt Disney Company of special copyright protections granted to the corporation by Congress, while also limiting the length of new copyrights.
The “Copyright Clause Restoration Act of 2022” would cap the length of copyrights given corporations by Congress to 56 years and retroactively implement this change on companies, including Walt Disney.
“The age of Republican handouts to Big Business is over. Thanks to special copyright protections from Congress, woke corporations like Disney have earned billions while increasingly pandering to woke activists. It’s time to take away Disney’s special privileges and open up a new era of creativity and innovation,” Hawley told Fox News Digital in an exclusive statement.
According to Hawley’s office, Congress has used an old law, also known as the “Mickey Mouse Protection Act,” in order to extend copyrights to corporations for up to 120 years.
WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 4: Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee business meeting to vote on Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on Capitol Hill, April 4, 2022 in Washington, DC. A confirmation vote from the full Senate will come later this week. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images).
Instead of issuing copyright protections to create enough monopoly protection in order to foster innovation, companies are getting handouts from Congress for a much longer period than needed.
The action by Hawley comes after Disney publicly opposed Florida’s new parental rights legislation, which bars instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. Those opposed to the legislation, including Disney, have dubbed it the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, saying the law is hurtful to LGBTQ rights and inclusiveness.
However, the Florida law doesn’t actually contain the word “gay,” but states that “classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill at the end of April dissolving Walt Disney’s special self governing status in the state, which the company held for over 50 years.
U.S. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, U.S. February 24, 2022. REUTERS/Marco Bello
At the bill signing ceremony, DeSantis said Disney lied about the content of the state’s new parental rights law, and he viewed the company’s vow to fight it as unacceptable.
Nearly two dozen Republican lawmakers wrote to Disney CEO Bob Chapek last month, declaring their opposition to renewing the company’s copyright on Mickey Mouse, which is set to expire in 2024.
FILE PHOTO: Fireworks go off around Cinderella’s castle during the grand opening ceremony for Walt Disney World’s Fantasyland in Lake Buena Vista, Florida December 6, 2012. (REUTERS/Scott Audette/File Photo)
The lawmakers noted in their letter that “the Constitution gives Congress the authority to determine the length of time to protect copyrights. Further, it explicitly states that copyrights may not be permanent. Yet Disney’s long history of lobbying on this issue suggests that is its goal.”
Fox News’ Houston Keene contributed to this report.