TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Florida government’s fight with the Walt Disney Company has spread to the halls of U.S. Congress. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., introduced legislation on Tuesday to “strip woke corporations like Disney of special copyright protections.”
Disney and Florida’s political leaders have been at odds since the company’s opposition to education legislation House Bill 1557 – the Parental Rights in Education bill that’s called “Don’t Say Gay” by its critics.
Gov. Ron DeSantis and state lawmakers passed Senate Bill 4C, which dissolved the Reedy Creek Improvement District and five other special state districts created before 1968. In a response to the legislation, Disney said the effort would be contingent on agreements made in their charter with the state of Florida for RCID. Taxpayers living in the area around Walt Disney World have also now sued the state over its legislation.
Hawley’s proposed bill is called “The Copyright Clause Restoration Act,” and explicitly targets company copyrights that are protected for up to 120 years. According to a statement from Hawley, Disney is a company that currently has that privilege.
Under his proposed legislation, the copyright protections would be limited to 56 years, and would “make the change retroactive for massive corporations like Disney that have been granted unnecessarily long copyright monopolies.”
Referring to what Hawley calls a “sweetheart deal,” Disney’s protections for their copyrights go “well beyond the original maximum of 28 years.” Hawley’s statement calls the bill a way to “crack down on copyright monopolies” by limiting new copyrights to 56 years, as was the case during “most of the 20th century,’ and delay implementation of copyrights for some license holders.
However, the bill does more than change copyright licensing times.
If passed, the bill would codify a 28-year copyright term, if renewed during a one-year period before an original copyright would expire. Additionally, for companies that have a market capitalization of $150,000,000,000 and is classified under the North American Industry Classification System as a 5121 or 71, or “engages in substantial activities for which a code described” in the sub-clause on classification “could be assigned.”
A 5121 classification is for Motion Picture and Video Industry groups, while a code 71 is for Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation, according to the NAICS.
The Walt Disney Company’s current market cap is $196.05 billion, above the market capitalization written in Hawley’s proposed legislation.
Additionally, the bill’s text says “If, as of May 1, 2022, a person is operating under a license with respect to a copyright that…would expire during the 10-year period” to start May 1, “that person shall continue to hold the rights contained in that license for a period that is the shorter of 50% of the remaining license term as of May 1, 2022; or 10 years,” also starting May 1.
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