Disney’s Influence on the Enactment of the Copyright Term Extension Act (“CTEA”), as Well as the CTEA’s Retrospective and Prospective Impact.
CitationKamboj, Nick H. 2018. Disney’s Influence on the Enactment of the Copyright Term Extension Act (“CTEA”), as Well as the CTEA’s Retrospective and Prospective Impact.. Master's thesis, Harvard Extension School.
AbstractThis Thesis explores The Walt Disney Company’s (Disney) specific influence in the 1998 Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA) enactment as well as the CTEA’s retrospective and prospective impacts. The benefits and disadvantages of the CTEA are elaborated in significant detail, and are supported by objective research and in-depth interviews of influential artists and industry experts. Research conducted for this Thesis has demonstrated that Disney was the primary lobbying organization for the CTEA Bill, both within the U.S. House of Representative as well as within the U.S. Senate. Through multiple and significant lobbying efforts, Disney directly influenced the CTEA’s enactment.
It is also demonstrated that Disney’s lobbying influence as well as the United States’ Congress’ argument that economic benefits would not be achieved if U.S. Copyright Law was not harmonized with the European Union, were the primary contributors to the CTEA’s enactment. Additional research for this Thesis has demonstrated that the enactment of the CTEA in 1998 was necessary in part to rationalize U.S. Copyright Law term length and other protections with those of the European Union and other international countries; however, that this harmonization was not necessarily reciprocal in benefits afforded to the United States.
Research has also demonstrated, that the $6.3 Million dollars used by Disney, to lobby for the CTEA’s enactment, was a paltry amount relative to the valuation of Disney’s intellectual property assets at that time, its risk exposure to loss of copyrights, and also when compared to Disney’s overall total gross annual revenues prior to the CTEA’s enactment. In addition, personal interview accounts of retired Disney and Disney Corporation affiliate employees, is conducted to better understand Disney’s non-financial brand contributory influence to the CTEA. It is this non-financial brand value influence originating from Disney’s iconic characters and themed amusements parks, which have become virtually inextricable from any childhood and an irrefutable asset for Disney. Furthermore, research conducted also demonstrates that CTEA proponents’ claims regarding the need for the CTEA to prompt creativity or to protect financial interests of content creators are overreaching and are not applicable to all creative endeavors or creative occupations.
Lastly, interview research conducted for this Thesis with notable and established Hollywood entertainers, entertainment attorneys, music composers, publicists and an emerging artist provides evidence that neither awareness of the CTEA nor Copyright Law has had minimal to absolutely no direct influence in their respective creative endeavors, careers, their clients’ careers, or the bequeathment of real or intellectual property to their heirs. Furthermore, academic and interview research conducted also indicates the motivations to create are varied, and cannot be uniformly categorized as those arising simply from the need for financial gain or, being primarily motivated by the transference ease of intellectual property rights to heirs or third parties. This is supported by the fact that less than 20% of interview respondents for this Thesis, were concerned with the bequeathment of their intellectual property assets and copyrights. Furthermore, less than 20% also stated that they were inspired to create as a result of additional copyright protections afforded by copyright law.
In conclusion, given that copyright term length and other rationalizations have taken place with European Union copyright laws, and that Disney has already lobbied for prior copyright term length extension, it is unlikely that an additional copyright term length lobbying effort will be executed by Disney. Furthermore, should Disney pursue additional lobbying, its efforts will be met with significant opposition from both the current CTEA opponents and Congress.
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