from the mouse-in-the-house dept
This seems to be becoming a thing here in America, this desire by those in power to punish private companies for their stances and speech on controversial topics. Mike recently wrote about how this effort to exert legislative influence on private actors is one of the few bits of bi-partisanship we have these days. And, of course, how it’s absolutely the morally wrong thing to do when either of side of the aisle engages in this sort of thing. Still, I won’t pretend that it isn’t a spotlight of hypocrisy when one particular side crusades against “cancel culture” only to literally attempt to cancel specific forms of culture merely over speech their side of the political spectrum doesn’t like.
Disney has found itself in the crosshairs in this manner recently, due to its vocal opposition to Florida’s new law that governs what some teachers can teach. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis pounded many tables and shook many fists over the company deciding it had an opinion on the matter. Marsha Blackburn did likewise, making some unfortunate noises about how Disney would be punished if it tried to “interfere” in Florida, a state in which the company has many employees and assets.
And, like a deranged moth to a flame of controversy, Colorado Representative Lauren Boebert decided to weigh in herself in a manner that was unintentionally illuminating.
If you can’t read that, it says:
Next year, the woke Disney lobbyists will ask Congress to extend Micky Mouse’s trademark.
I think not.
So much to unpack in such a small tweet. The replies to her did most of the work, frankly, but three points that should be made. First, it’s “Mickey”, not “Micky”. There’s, like, an entire famous intro song for Mr. Mouse that literally spells out the name. Right, Jedi Master Luke Skywalker?
Right. Second, and this is really Techdirt territory, trademark and copyright are two massively different things. Different laws, with different purposes, that apply to different assets in different ways. It gets quite frustrating when the general public, or business leaders, don’t bother understanding the difference between the two. But Boebert is a lawmaker talking about laws of which she appears to have zero understanding. This is a threat levied by a lawmaker to not “extend” Disney’s trademark, which is not something Congress has any control over. Instead, she’s probably talking about refusing to extend copyright terms, something that Disney very much has wanted Congress to do in the past (though has shown no inclination to do again this time around).
And on that topic, thirdly, Congress should not extend copyright terms further… but not because Disney, the company, has an opinion and engages in speech about a law in a state in which it operates, has employees, and does business. That sort of thing has a name: fascism. Fascism is the authoritarian control by a limited number of powerful members of the State in a manner that suppresses opposition, criticism, and speech, including by private industry. That is what Boebert is advocating for, openly and nakedly.
So by all means, don’t extend copyright terms past their current absurd levels. But not as punishment for Disney refusing to be bigoted asshats.