Republican Senator Josh Hawley is proposing to shorten the time that companies can protect their creative work through copyrights, in the latest shot at Walt Disney Co.
Hawley introduced a bill that would limit copyright protections to 56 years and make that change retroactive, so Disney could no longer claim exclusive rights to some older characters like Mickey Mouse.
“The age of Republican handouts to Big Business is over,” Hawley, from Missouri, said in a press release. “It’s time to take away Disney’s special privileges and open up a new era of creativity and innovation.”
Disney, the world’s largest entertainment company, has found itself the target of Republicans after coming out against a Florida law restricting the discussion of gender identity in schools. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation last month eliminating a special municipal district that the company had operated in since the 1960s.
In his statement, Hawley called Disney a “woke” corporation.
Under current law Mickey Mouse, which dates back to a character from the 1928 cartoon “Steamboat Willie,” is set to lose copyright protection in 2024.
When asked about this in the past Disney has said there are other ways to protect its intellectual property, such as establishing trademarks, which are different from copyrights. The company declined to comment on Hawley’s proposal.