(The Hill) — Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) introduced legislation on Tuesday that would strip “woke corporations like Disney” of special protections enabling companies to hold copyright material for decades.
The Copyright Clause Restoration Act would limit copyrighted material to 56 years and apply the new rule retroactively, meaning Disney and other companies could immediately lose some copyright protections if the law were passed.
The measure is the latest Republican attack on Disney, which last month was stripped of its self-governing status at its amusement park in Orlando, Florida, after Gov. Ron DeSantis took issue with the media company for speaking out against the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity from kindergarten through third grade.
Hawley’s bill goes after Disney’s long-running list of iconic characters stretching from Mickey Mouse to Marvel superheroes. Hawley said in a press release that “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,” Hawley said in a statement. “It’s time to take away Disney’s special privileges and open up a new era of creativity and innovation.”
The Hill has reached out to Disney for comment.
After lobbying from Disney, Congress passed a law in 1998 that extended copyright protections for corporations, giving them ownership for 95 years from original publication or 120 years from creation. The law was dubbed the Mickey Mouse Protection Act.
The Copyright Clause Restoration Act limits copyrighted material to 28 years and allows owners to apply for one additional 28-year extension. Since the law would be applied retroactively, Hawley said that “Disney would begin to lose protections for some of its oldest and most valuable copyrights.”
Disney has recently acquired some of the most iconic and expansive characters and universes, including Star Wars, Marvel, and 21st Century Fox.