Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said he intends to introduce legislation this week targeting the “special copyright protections” of The Walt Disney Company and other “woke corporations.”
“For years,” wrote the senator in a tweet posted Monday, “Disney has gotten special copyright protections from the federal government — allowing them to charge consumers more. Woke corporations shouldn’t get sweetheart deals.”
“I’ll introduce legislation this week to end their special protections — enough is enough,” he added.
CBN’s Faithwire has reached out to Hawley’s office for comment.
The timing of Hawley’s proposal is significant, as it comes a little more than a year before Walt Disney’s copyright for his 1928 “Steamboat Willie” is set to expire Jan. 1, 2024, moving the cartoon depiction — the first iteration of the Mickey Mouse character — into the public domain.
In early April, close to two dozen GOP lawmakers sent a letter to Disney CEO Bob Chapek, warning him of their opposition renewing The Walt Disney Company’s copyright on the “Steamboat Willie” iteration of Mickey Mouse. Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), who spearheaded the letter, cited in his note Disney’s “political and sexual agenda” as the impetus for opposing a copyright extension for the House of Mouse.
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The Republicans alleged to Chapek that Disney “has capitulated to far-left activists through hypocritical, woke corporate actions,” referring to The Walt Disney Company’s vehement opposition to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits public-school educators from teaching children in pre-K through third-grade classrooms about sexual orientation and gender identity.
“Disney has said it wants this law repealed, even though it has broad support among Florida residents, especially parents,” stated the lawmakers. “A senior Disney employee was recently caught on camera saying she wants ‘many, many, many LGBTQIA characters in our stories.’ And according to a Disney employee, Disney’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion department, ‘expanded by an astonishing 633 percent in 2019–21, at the same time that nearly every other department was contracting by 25–75 percent.'”
“This suggests Disney is purposefully influencing small children with its political and sexual agenda,” they added.
Disney has, in the past, successfully lobbied for the extension of copyright protections for its properties in order to keep the entities from falling into the public domain. The iconic entertainment brand pushed from the Copyright Act of 1976 and the subsequent Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, which extended corporate copyright protections from 75 to 95 years. Critics of the latter legislation have dubbed it the “Mickey Mouse Protection Act.”
All of this comes as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has not backed down in his repudiation against Disney.
Late last month, he signed legislation disbanding Walt Disney World’s Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID), a special, self-governing district formed May 12, 1967. The unique arrangement grants Disney the rights to operate its sprawling, 25,000-acre property — on which Walt Disney World is situated — independently by establishing its own city council, providing for its own public services, establishing its own building codes, and providing for its own financial needs by taxing the property owner, which is The Walt Disney Company.
As it stands right now, the RCID is set to expire June 1, 2023. However, Disney could legally challenge the legislation. You can read an extensive report on the history and future of the district here.
DeSantis, for his part, said last week he is “not comfortable having one company with their own government and special privileges when that company has pledged itself to attacking the parents in my state.”
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