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Hollywood’s Marvel-Disney Horror Story

Disneylands Avengers Campus Opens
Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG
Eriq Gardner
April 18, 2022

I have a horror story to share. It’s about The Thing, and the shapeshifting monster that promises to devour much of Hollywood. Studios are now bracing for mass casualties. But there’s more to this bloody story. 

This tale begins in the 1970s, when federal lawmakers added decades to the lifespan of copyrights. Sounds straightforward, but there was a twist. It was also decided that authors of copyrighted works (and their heirs) should enjoy the newly lengthened term rather than publishers and studios. Why? Congress knew that many creatives possess little bargaining power early in their careers and they often assign rights for very little. The idea was to give them a second bite at the apple. These creators would have to wait a while (35 years for works created after 1978; 56 years for older works), but once the ticking clock hits the mark, these individuals can terminate copyright grants and reclaim ownership.