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2 J. Marshall Rev. Intell. Prop. L. 95 (2002-2003)
Mickey Mouse &(and) Sonny Bono Go to Court: The Copyright Term Extension Act and Its Effect on Current and Future Rights

handle is hein.journals/johnmars2 and id is 111 raw text is: MICKEY MOUSE & SONNY BONO GO TO COURT: THE COPYRIGHT TERM
Congress has repeatedly extended the term of copyright protection in the past
century.1 Most recently, Congress extended the protection term for both existing and
future copyrights by twenty years.2 Now imagine that you are an artist, writer, or
archivist who uses information in the public domain in order to create new works.
Under the current life-plus-seventy'3 rule for copyrights, an artist who created a
work in the 1930s and died at the age of seventy in the year 1970 will own the
copyright of that work at least until the year 2040.4 That amounts to 110 years5 of
protection under the Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA)!
So what is the significance of all this? Not only will the artist's children benefit
financially from the copyright, but the artist's grandchildren will profit as well.6
Moreover, it means that the artist, writer or archivist who wants to use the work
must track down the copyright holder to get their permission.7 In most cases, the
copyright holder is not the creator himself and permission is needed regardless of
whether the work is popular or profitable.8 In other cases, the copyright holder will
* J.D./LL.M Candidate I.P., June 2003, The John Marshall Law School. B.S. Mgmt. Info.
Systems, Northern IL University, 2000. The author would like to thank Ben Cotton, Adrienne
Kitchen and Adam Gustafson for their editorial assistance as well as Prof. Doris Estelle Long for her
1 Soo,  ., Sue Ann Mota, Eldred v. Reno - -T thc Copyright Thrm Extension Constitutionnl,
12 ALB. L.J. Sci. & TECH. 167, 169 (2001). In 1831, copyright terms were extended from fourteen
years to twenty-eight years. Id. In 1909, this twenty-eight year term was changed from the date of
filing to the date of publication. Id. Between 1962 and 1974, Congress passed a series of laws that
incrementally extended existing copyrights. Id. By 1976, the Berne Convention recommended a
basic copyright term of life of the author plus fifty years, which was adopted by the U.S. in 1989. Id.
2 Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, Pub. L. No. 105-298, 112 Stat. 2827 (1998)
(codified as amended 17 U.S.C. §§ 108, 203, 301-304) [hereinafter CTEA].
17 U.S.C. § 302(a) (Supp. 1999). In General.- Copyright in a work created on or after
January 1, 1978, subsists from its creation and, except as provided by the following subsections,
endures for a term consisting of the life of the author and 70 years from the author's death. Id.
4 See gene-rally Jane C. Ginsburg et al., The Constitutionality of Copyright Term Extension:
HowLongis Too Long?, 18 CARDoZO ARTS & ENT. L.J. 651, 674-675 (2000) (discussing the effects of
the CTEA).
5 The calculation for obtaining 110 years is as follows: 1970 + 70 (years)= 2040; 1970 - 1930
40 (years); 70 years + 40 years = 110 years of protections.
6 Ginsburg, supra note 4, at 674-676.
7 Id.
8 ld.

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