No, not that Sonny.  No, rather this:  If America’s most famous variety-show-star-turned-congressman hadn’t slammed into that tree on that fatal day of downhill skiing, we’d probably never have the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998.  That’s reason to mourn him right there.

Fair enough — if he’d sat in the lodge and drank cocoa instead we would probably still have the law, but at least its embarrassing content would not be matched with a preposterous name.  But given that it is what it is, ten years later, what is it?  Gigi Sohn says well:

How can you measure the number of new works and new wealth that were not created because of the extended terms? Or the number of new orphan works created? But since it has been shown that about 98% of copyrighted works lose their value between year 55 and year 75 of protection, we know who has profited from the law – large, multinational media companies like Disney, Fox and NBC-Universal, who maintain a vise-like grip on works that should have belonged to the public years ago. Suffice it to say that the Sonny Bono Act was nothing more than corporate welfare for big copyright holders. . . .

Ok, I got that off my chest. Now let me say something positive about both the DMCA and the Sonny Bono Act. The simultaneous passage of these two copyright strengthening bills, despite the strenuous objections of libraries, arts and cultural organizations, consumer electronics companies, and cyberliberties groups clearly hit a nerve, and became the impetus behind the copyright reform movement. . .

[W]hile we've stopped many bad things from happening, we have not yet been able to get any law or policy adopted that would bring some balance (or sanity) back to copyright law.

Read it!  Hat tip to Denise Howell, via Twitter.

Originally posted 2008-11-17 13:53:25. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Ron Coleman

I write this blog.

4 thoughts on “Mourning Sonny”
  1. […] So you might think that would leave me more time to write posts!  And you would be correct.  But I would be writing them mainly for myself, I learned, as I saw late December traffic trail off consistently year after year.  For some reasons lawyers don’t read trademark law blogs while they’re skiing — probably a good idea, all things considered, both for them and for the state of intellectual property law. […]

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