29 Jun 2011
Peter Pan, The Copyright That Wouldn’t Expire
The UK has an interesting quirk in its copyright legislation. In 1988, a Parliamentary Bill granted Great Ormond Street Hospital a perpetual right to claim royalties for the Peter Pan intellectual property donated to them by J. M. Barrie. Perhaps fittingly, the boy who wouldn’t grow up has copyright that won’t fully expire.
If it looks like Disney can’t successfully lobby for further extensions as Steamboat Willie’s 2023 public domain deadline approaches, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them try a similar strategy. Imagine if Disney donated expiring IP to something like a kids’ hospital and lobbied for a perpetual US copyright exception. How many politicians would dare to oppose Mickey Mouse saving sick children? It could be a devious way to maintain some control, especially if Disney then conveniently struck an exclusive licensing deal with the recipients.