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If passed, the bill would immediately end all copyright protections on Disney’s signature character Micky Mouse

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) introduced a bill on May 10 that would remove the special copyright protections on “woke corporations like Disney.”

“Copyright Clause Restoration Act of 2022 would limit new copyright protections to 56 years and make the change retroactive for massive corporations like Disney that have been granted unnecessarily long copyright monopolies,” Hawley said in a May 10 press release.

Currently, Disney and other companies enjoys the protection of the Sonny Bono Copyright Act Congress passed in 1998, which gives copyright protections to corporate works for 95 years from the publishing date or 120 years from the creation date, whichever comes earlier. This protection applies to Disney’s signature Micky Mouse character until 2024.

If passed, Hawley’s bill would restore the length of copyright protection to artistic works as prescribed in the Copyright Act of 1909—to 56 years—before Disney successfully lobbied for its extension to 76 years in 1976.

This period of 56 years is “plenty of incentive to encourage authorship,” the press release reads.

The bill would retroactively apply to the “biggest entertainment companies, including Disney,” the statement says, which the bill defines as those with a market capitalization of more than $150 billion.

For Disney, the passage of this bill would strip copyright protections from some of its “oldest and most valuable” characters, Hawley’s office said, including the Micky Mouse, who would become a part of the public domain.

“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 said.

Hawley’s bill comes as congressional lawmakers take issue with Disney’s partnership with the Communist Chinese regime and the entertainment giant’s opposition to Florida’s new parental rights law that bans classroom instructional materials teaching gender identity or sexual orientation for children in grade three or under.

In a letter to Disney’s CEO Bob Chapek in April, lawmakers from the Republicans Study Commission said that Disney “sought to expand business in China by kowtowing to its Communist regime, which is actively engaged in human rights abuses and the theft of U.S. intellectual property. Disney even filmed a movie in Xinjiang province, where officials are currently waging genocide against Uyghur Muslims, then thanked local Communist Party authorities in the movie credits.”

“Given Disney’s continued work with a Communist Chinese regime that does not respect human rights or U.S. intellectual property and given your desire to influence young children with sexual material inappropriate for their age, I will not support further extensions applicable to your copyrights, which should become public domain,” said Rep. Jim Banks, who spearheaded the letter.

From the time Disney expressed opposition to the Florida parental rights law in late March to April 22, when Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill to dissolve Disney World’s private government, Disney’s market capitalization shrunk by nearly $34 billion.

The Epoch Times has reached out to Disney for comment.

Gary Bai


Gary Bai is a reporter for Epoch Times Canada, covering China and U.S. news.