MPAA Applauds Legal Upholding of Copyright Extension, Asks for Trade Watch

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has lauded a ruling by a Washington, DC federal appeals court. On Friday, February 16, the court upheld by a 2-1 vote a 1998 law that extended copyright protection for intellectual properties works by two decades. The extension was pushed through Congress by former president Bill Clinton, with strong backing from the Walt Disney Company, which feared that copyrights on icons like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck would soon move into the public domain. US copyright law now agrees with its European counterparts as a result of the revision.

The three-judge panel affirmed Congressional power to extend the terms of copyright protection, and dismissed arguments presented by some companies and individuals that the extension violated their First Amendment rights. "The plaintiffs' First Amendment objection fails because they have no cognizably First Amendment interest in the copyrighted works of others," wrote Judge Douglas Ginsburg.

MPAA president Jack Valenti applauded the court for its decision. "The Court of Appeals decision today is a joyous one," Valenti said. "It confirms that our nation's creators and copyright-owners are deserving of the same level of protection enjoyed by their counterparts in the European Union."

Valenti, who has also recently campaigned for stronger anti-piracy protection for his industry, called on Washington to institute a "trade watch" on countries known as centers of piracy. In conjunction with the International Intellectual Property Alliance, the MPAA has asked that special scrutiny be applied to Russia, Brazil, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Turkey as blatant violators of copyrights. Russia and Brazil are known as countries where piracy is a way of life—as are China, India, Israel, Bulgaria, and the former Portuguese colony of Macao near Hong Kong, where pirated movies are mass-produced for distribution on the Chinese mainland.