This Note is meant to address the issues surrounding the rights copyright holders have in their characters and what rights they should be given. These existing rights are so valuable that it is likely that major companies such as Disney are going to continue to try to extend copyright duration; this method has worked repeatedly in the past to protect their fictional characters. The extension of copyright duration through statutes is an attempt to navigate the issue that the U.S. Constitution technically only allows for copyrights to be protected for a “limited time.” If companies such as Disney can get a copyright term extension every few decades, they will essentially have created de facto perpetual copyright duration without violating the language of the Constitution. The right to create derivative works is also protection given by copyright law and it may be far more valuable to authors who wish to produce their works in a series. The U.S. Courts of Appeals decisions in Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. v. X One X Products and Klinger v. Conan Doyle Estate, however, seem to create a circuit split that complicates the issue of when other authors can begin to create derivative works. With copyrights protecting such a valuable industry there are some who argue for copyright duration to be extended indefinitely,18 but there are also strong arguments against perpetual copyright duration premised on the relationship between copyright protection, competition, and creativity.
Copyright Protection: The Force Could Not Keep Han Solo Alive, but Can It Protect Him from Authors’ Derivative Works?,
81 Mo. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.missouri.edu/mlr/vol81/iss2/13