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Eldred v. Ashcroft: The Supreme Court's Mickey Mouse Copyright Decision

By David L. Applegate
October 01, 2003
Recently decided by the Supreme Court is the case of Eldred v. Ashcroft, which challenged the constitutionality of the 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act (“the CTEA”). In brief, the CTEA extended the duration of existing U.S. copyrights by an additional twenty years, just as many were otherwise about to expire. Some observers saw corporate copyright holders like the Walt Disney Company as beneficiaries (copyrights on the earliest Mickey Mouse cartoons would otherwise have begun expiring at the end of this year), and a group of citizens with interests in enlarging and preserving the public domain brought suit challenging the CTEA’s constitutionality.