What is the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998?
One concern that many copyright holders have is regarding what will happen to their intellectual property once the copyright expires. The Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 allows the term of copyrights that were in existence on or after January 1, 1978, to be extended for 70 years after the author’s death. Prior to this Act, the copyright expired only 50 years after the death of the author.
For works that were created by an anonymous author, the copyright was extended to 95 years from the date of the first publication or 120 years from the date it was created, whichever comes first. Prior to this Act, it was 75 years and 100 years. Some people refer to the Copyright Term Extension Act as the Mickey Mouse Act because it was created around the same time in which Disney nearly lost its copyright protections on its early work. Once copyright on a tangible product, such as those created by Disney, it is open for the public domain. The public domain allows anyone at all to use the product, change the product, sell the product, or reproduce the product. As you can see, this would be a major issue for a corporation like Disney, who relies on the success of their cartoons to continue its success.
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