Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., has targeted The Walt Disney Company by proposing to shorten the time that companies can protect their creative work through copyrights.
Hawley on Tuesday introduced a bill that would limit copyright protections to 56 years and make that change retroactive, so Disney no longer could claim exclusive rights to some older characters such as Mickey Mouse.
"The age of Republican handouts to Big Business is over," Hawley said in a statement on his website. "Thanks to special copyright protections from Congress, woke corporations like Disney have earned billions while increasingly pandering to woke activists.
"It's time to take away Disney's special privileges and open up a new era of creativity and innovation."
Hawley's website added that under Congress' current "sweetheart deal," companies such as Disney have been granted certain copyright protections for up to 120 years — well beyond the original maximum of 28 years.
The company declined to comment on Hawley's proposal, Bloomberg reported.
Under current law, Mickey Mouse is set to lose copyright protection in 2024. The iconic figure dates back to a character from the 1928 cartoon "Steamboat Willie."
Disney in the past has said there were other ways to protect its intellectual property, such as establishing trademarks, which are different from copyrights, Bloomberg said.
"There's no reason @disney or any other woke corporation should keep getting special favors from government. End the handouts now," Hawley tweeted Tuesday.
Disney inserted itself into the political arena in March when it came out in opposition of Florida's Parental Rights in Education law, which forbids instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade.
"Florida's HB 1557, also known as the 'Don't Say Gay' bill, should never have passed and should never have been signed into law," Disney said in a statement.
"Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that."
In late April, Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., signed a bill to dissolve Walt Disney World's private government that the company had operated in since the 1960s.
An ensuing lawsuit filed last week by Florida taxpayers against the decision by DeSantis to pass the law was dismissed by a federal judge.
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