Journal of Intellectual Property Law, Vol. 12, No. 2 (Spring 2005), pp. 489-499


At first glance, American copyright law and policy seem to be dictated entirely by a monolithic block of corporate rightsholders. Over the last twenty years, powerful interests including Disney, the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), Microsoft, and the American Motion Picture Association (AMPA), have successfully lobbied Congress for copyright term extensions, copyright restoration, software anticircumvention legislation, protection against audio bootlegging, and a series of bilateral and international agreements designed to increase protection for American copyright owners overseas. Even the failure to protect databases in America, widely touted as a victory for the public interest, has been driven by opposition from large corporate database gatherers. Serious public debate over issues raised by corporate influence on copyright policy is limited to academic conferences, Internet bloggers, and the occasional letter to the editor. The Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA), a piece of legislation that will cost consumers untold billions over the next twenty years, encountered so little opposition that it was passed by Congress with a voice vote.