A Cost/Benefit Analysis of the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998
Luck, Alexander M.
The Disney Corporation was successful in convincing Congress to extend all U.S. copyright terms right before the copyright for Mickey Mouse was set to enter the public domain. A majority of the co-signers of the bill each received large donations from Disney, and the Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA) was passed a few days later. Upon economic analysis, it is easy to see that Congress was not acting in the interests of American public. The benefits of the CTEA are small and only gained by a few dozen owners of antique copyrights because at least 90% of the works from the 1920's, 30's, and 40's are no longer published because they lack commercial value. The public will not have access to these until December 31, 2018. The present value of the additional incentive is non-existent because the previous copyright term was already too long. The costs are large. The inefficient monopolies that have been extended will receive a windfall of profits coming out of the pockets of the public; and by the time the term is over, many works will be lost. In conclusion, Congress sold out the American public so it could help Disney.
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