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How Disney Used the Public Domain for Profit but Doesn’t Want You To

While Disney took and reused from the public domain, none of the works created by Disney, including derivative works based upon public domain works, have entered the public domain for others to build upon. And if current policy is extended — they never will. Disney continuously lobbies Congress for copyright extensions so much so that the first time they went to congress, the company’s lobbying efforts were so extensive, the bill is often referred to as the “Mickey Mouse Protection Act.” They also use the platform to try and inform the public that copyright should last forever because it’s their “property” and that it’s never ok to use or build upon their property without paying. Under the content industry’s vernacular, if taking and remixing other people’s work without paying for it is always stealing then the Disney Corporation is responsible for one of the greatest thefts in world history.

One of the biggest beneficiaries of the public domain has been Disney, a company which has regularly mined the public domain for the stories it then recreates and copyrights. Of course, somewhat depressingly, Disney also has been one of the most extreme players in keeping anything new out of the public domain, as pointed out by Tom Bell's excellent "mickey mouse curve" showing how Disney has sought to push out the term of copyrights every time Mickey Mouse gets near the public domain.

Mickey Mouse Curve

Derek Khanna has decided to crowdsource a list of all of the public domain works that Disney has relied on over the years. He's also looking for revenue figures on all of those works, in an attempt to show just how much Disney has profited off of the public domain (and hopefully to shut up those who argue that when a work falls into the public domain, it suddenly loses its value).

See the original post by TechDirt here Crowdsourcing A List Of How Disney Uses The Public Domain | Techdirt.

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