Skip to main content

Josh Hawley wants to punish Disney by taking copyright law back to 1909 and that sucks

Senate Armed Services Committee
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

I have been told to blog about Senator Josh Hawley’s new copyright bill, and I do this with nothing but the greatest reluctance. Normally, I love talking about copyright! I’ll talk about copyright all day long! [Ed note: And she does.] But writing this post is agony, because the thought of giving this absolutely asinine piece of legislation any attention is killing me on the inside.

This is a deeply unserious bill. There is not a line in it that is meant to pass muster. It is knowingly in violation of the Constitution, and an insult to the democratic process.

In brief, the bill is targeted at the Walt Disney Company, also known as,

a person that (i) has a market capitalization of more than $150,000,000,000; and (ii)(I) is classified under North American Industry Classification System code 5121 or 71; or (II) engages in substantial activities for which a code described in subclause (I) could be assigned.

The bill would set copyright terms to 28 years (plus a potential renewal of another 28 years) for all works going forward. Except, that is, for the copyrights owned by the Walt Disney Company (aka the person in the room with a market capitalization of more than $150 billion). The 28-year term would apply retroactively to Disney, stripping it of intellectual property assets going back to Steamboat Willie.

The 28-year copyright term is a throwback to the Copyright Act of 1909. The requirement for an application for an extension is, similarly, an outdated legal formality that was abandoned by the Copyright Act of 1973, barred from future law when the United States signed onto the international copyright treaty known as the Berne Convention in 1988, and further precluded by a succession of trade agreements (for example, NAFTA in 1994, KORUS in 2007). A reduction of copyright terms to 28 years is also barred by international law.

In other words, Hawley’s bill is a joke. I say this as someone who thinks copyright law is too restrictive, that copyright terms are too long, that the last extension of copyright terms should have never been allowed in 1998, and that Disney’s activism toward that end is reprehensible. But nothing about this bill is intended to provoke thoughtful discussion, let alone pass Congress.

Would I like to see copyright terms reduced? Absolutely! Would I like to see our representatives challenge mega-corporations? Of course! Would I appreciate legislators taking big swings to push the Overton window on tech policy? Hell yes!

But Hawley is cribbing his copyright policy from 1909. What, does he want us to go back to shitting in buckets, too?

This is not a radical rethinking of copyright. It is regression as a meme, a fart in the wind, an empty and cynical gesture meant for a future fundraising email. All because Disney is the latest punching bag for a Republican party whose rabid homophobia would not look out of place in 1909.

Legislators have long pushed bills that they knew weren’t going to go anywhere, but the level of effort involved has plummeted. Hawley isn’t even trying, because he simply does not care. And that’s all you need to know about his copyright bill.

Source: The Verge

Popular posts from this blog

Twitter has hidden the chronological feed on iOS again – and I'm furious

In a controversial move, Twitter has brought back a feature that removes the 'Latest Tweets' view for users on iOS, which is something that many users, including me, hated back in March 2022 – and it's now rolling out. The first time the company decided to do this, 'Home' would appear first in a tab at the top, and there was no way of changing it so that 'Latest Tweets' would be the default view. It was reverted back after the company said it was a 'bug' for iOS users. This time though, it's no bug. Instead, it's 'For You' and 'Following' where you can only swipe between them now, which doesn't make much sense for a platform where you're using the platform to keep up to date with who you follow. It's a bizarre change that makes me ask – who wants this, especially during a time when its new owner, Elon Musk, is bringing in and reversing changes almost every week still? This one change will have big consequenc

This new Linux malware floods machines with cryptominers and DDoS bots

Cybersecurity researchers have spotted a new Linux malware downloader that targets poorly defended Linux servers with cryptocurrency miners and DDoS IRC bots. Researchers from ASEC discovered the attack after the Shell Script Compiler (SHC) used to create the downloader was uploaded to VirusTotal. Apparently, Korean users were the ones uploading the SHC, and it’s Korean users who are targets, as well. Further analysis has shown that the threat actors are going after poorly defended Linux servers, brute-forcing their way into administrator accounts over SSH.  Mining Monero Once they make their way in, they’ll either install a cryptocurrency miner, or a DDoS IRC bot. The miner being deployed is XMRig, arguably the most popular cryptocurrency miner among hackers. It uses the computing power of a victim's endpoints to generate Monero, a privacy-oriented cryptocurrency whose transactions are seemingly impossible to track, and whose users are allegedly impossible to identify. Fo

Port of Lisbon hit by ransomware attack

One of Europe’s busiest seaports, the Port of Lisbon, has been hit with a ransomware attack that knocked some of its digital systems offline. "All safety protocols and response measures provided for this type of occurrence were quickly activated, the situation being monitored by the National Cybersecurity Center and the Judicial Police," a statement shared by the Port of Lisbon Administration (APL) with local media earlier this week said. The incident failed to impact the port’s operations, but did take its official website,, offline. LockBit taking responsibility "The Port of Lisbon Administration is working permanently and closely with all competent entities in order to guarantee the security of the systems and respective data," the statement concludes. While the company doesn’t explicitly say it was targeted with ransomware, the LockBit ransomware operator has added APL to its leaks website, taking responsibility for the hit.  The databas

Code-generating tools could be more of a security hindrance than help

New research by a group of Stanford-affiliated researchers has uncovered that code-generating AI tools such as Github Copilot can present more security risks than many users may realize. The study looked specifically at Codex, a product of OpenAI, of which Elon Musk is among the co-founders.  Codex powers the Microsoft-owned GitHub Copilot platform, which is designed to make coding easier and more accessible by translating natural language into code and suggesting changes based on contextual evidence. AI-coding problems Lead co-author of the study, Neil Perry, explains that “code-generating systems are currently not a replacement for human developers”. The study asked 47 developers of differing abilities to use Codex for security-related problems, using Python, JavaScript and C programming languages. It concluded that the participants who relied on Codex were more likely to write insecure code compared with a control group. Read more > These are the best laptops for progr