17 May 2022CopyrightMuireann Bolger

Elon Musk backs controversial copyright bill

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk has voiced his support for a bill that would would strip companies such as Disney of their extended copyright protections.

Musk appeared to back a bill introduced by Republican Senator Josh Hawley, which would reduce the term of protection for original works to a maximum of 56 years instead of the current 120 years.

In the tweet, sent on May 12, he poured scorn on Disney's copyright extension that had retained its hold on the iconic Mickey Mouse mascot.

‘Absurd protections’

“Current copyright law in general goes absurdly far beyond protecting the original creator,” tweeted Musk.

Hawley’s proposed legislation, the Copyright Clause Restoration Act, would apply to Disney’s copyright to the original design of Mickey Mouse, who was first introduced in the 1928 short animated film “Steamboat Willie.”

Disney had secured an extension after it lobbied the federal government to pass the Copyright Act of 1976, which continued protections for another 75 years.

Commenting on the proposed law, Hawley said in a statement. "Thanks to special copyright protections from Congress…corporations like Disney have earned billions….It’s time to take away Disney’s special privileges and open up a new era of creativity and innovation.”

A ‘plague on humanity’

In another tweet, Musk also voiced another  opinion on Twitter regarding copyright protections, describing the “overzealous” Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) as a plague on humanity.

Passed in 2000, the notice and takedown process under the act enable copyright owners to get user-uploaded material that infringes their copyrights taken down off of websites.

If the Tesla CEO completes his acquisition of Twitter, he will have to comply with this law as the new owner.

This development comes after Twitter has received a plethora of DMCA-related removal requests. When combining the numbers of Twitter and its now defunct video-sharing app Periscope, there was a 6% increase in requests filed under the DMCA in 2021, up from 169,000 to 179,000, according to Twitter's January Transparency report published in January.

The report, which covers the period between January and June 2021, revealed that Twitter received a total of 179,400 takedown notices for 799,400 affected accounts.

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