Who Framed Mickey Mouse?

Forthcoming, Kansas Law Review

63 Pages Posted: 4 Jun 2024

See all articles by Zvi S. Rosen

Zvi S. Rosen

Southern Illinois University School of Law

Date Written: March 01, 2024


In 1998, the United States passed a package of copyright reforms, including the extension of most copyright terms by 20 years. In the news at the time it was derisively called the Mickey Mouse Protection Act, and it was widely noted that it was passed with the expiration of copyright in the first Mickey Mouse cartoon looming. Steamboat Willy is now in the public domain, and it’s worth asking just how true this story is. This piece demonstrates that although Disney did indeed want term extension, and lobbied for it, Disney was neither the main nor the driving force behind term extension. Other interests took the lead, and Disney was just one part of a broad coalition with the heirs of songwriters and their advocates taking the lead. With that established, this piece in turn explores how we tell stories about the law, the uses of donation and lobbying data in public discourse, and given how Disney’s involvement in the 1998 term extension has become internet lore and a political hot topic again recently, discuss how and why it matters.

Suggested Citation

Rosen, Zvi S., Who Framed Mickey Mouse? (March 01, 2024). Forthcoming, Kansas Law Review, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4850604 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4850604

Zvi S. Rosen (Contact Author)

Southern Illinois University School of Law ( email )

1150 Douglas Drive
Carbondale, IL 62901-6804
United States

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