In 1998, Warner Music bought the rights to the song "Happy Birthday." People now have to pay Warner about $2 million a year to use the song in commercials and movies. Bridgeport Music, a business that makes no music but obtains copyrights and then sues people, won a lawsuit over two seconds of sound. Disney paid nothing for the Snow White story because it was in the public domain—but then Disney managed to get its version of Snow White copyrighted for 95 years.
Will 95 years of protection make Disney's animators more creative? Doubtful, writes John Stossel. Maybe intellectual property in its current form has simply outlived its expiration date.