One of the most powerful and controlling companies of the current times is Disney. Disney alone has curbed the copyright laws over the years from the original copyright law of the 14-year duration before entering the public domain, to in some cases, the copyright law lasting over a century.
Each time Disney’s iconic face of the company, Mickey Mouse, is about to enter the public domain; the corporation would fight their way to extend the copyright law. The most recent extension occurred in 1998 when President Clinton signed ‘The Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act’ to extend corporate authorship to 120 years after creation, or 95 years after publication, whichever expired first. This extension kept Mickey out of the public domain until 2023. Disney is constantly attempting to alter the extension and protect their mascot, Mickey Mouse, from entering the public domain past the 2023 expiation.
Disney are so protective of their sacred mascot that in 2014, they filed a petition to block the trademark of Canadian DJ Deadmau5’s, ‘mau5head’ for being too similar to the Mickey Mouse head. The ‘mau5head’ is in someway similar to Mickey Mouse but easily distinguished. Deadmau5, real name Joel Zimmerman, had already registered trademark for the ‘mau5head’ in 30 other countries, and had been using the head whilst performing for 10 years before Disney took action against him. Deadmau5 responded to Disney’s allegations by tweeting, telling the powerful corporation to “lawyer up mickey”.
After Zimmerman had tweeted to his 3 million followers about the stupidity of Disney’s case, the corporation fire back by illegally using Deadmau5’s track “Ghosts ‘n’ Stuff” in their short ‘Re-Micks’ cartoon. After this, the DJ publically filed a Cease and Desist to Disney for illegally using his song in their cartoon. Zimmerman tweeted “anyone wanna see some complete pwnage?” along with the complete Cease and Desist letter attached to the post, making the case very public. Disney responded to this letter with a statement to the ‘Rolling Stones’ magazine “”Disney vigorously protects its trademark rights, and we oppose Mr. Zimmerman’s attempt to register a logo that is nearly identical to our trademarks for his commercial exploitation”, “Our opposition is not about the use of the Deadmau5 costume. The music was appropriately licensed, and there is no merit to his statement.”
This whole case was just an example of the Disney corporation’s use of power, and the amount of control that the companyhave over smaller artists of any kind. Another example of Disney boasting its control was in 1989, when the company forced three daycare centers in the US, to remove the mural of the cartoon characters from its walls.
Some of the allegations that Disney makes are just so outrageous in some situations. The company constantly boasts their power and control in any means to overly protect its characters, brands and titles. But it shall be interesting to see if Disney will be able to extend the copyright laws even further another time to protect Mickey Mouse, if not, it would be interesting to see the company react when Mickeys becomes part of the public domain in 2023