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January 22, 2003 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-01-22

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, January 22, 2003


(Thle firtichrgFm ttilg


SINCE 1890

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editor

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority of the Daily's
editorial board. All other articles, letters and cartoons do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

"The fact that the
inspectors have not yet
come up with new
evidence of Iraq's
WMD program could
be evidence ... of Iraq's
- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, in
response to chief U.N. weapons inspector
Hans Blix's statement last week that his teams
had found no "smoking guns" in Iraq, as
quoted in this week's edition of Newsweek.




r, 'i\ \ .


This column copyrighted for more than 70 years

( arzan," "The
Hunchback of
Notre Dame,"
"Aladdin," "Beauty and
the Beast," "Pinocchio,"
"Alice in Wonderland,
"Cinderella, Peter Pan,
"Sleeping Beauty," "The
Jungle Book" and "The
Sword and the Stone" are
just a few of the Walt Disney Co.'s cartoon
classics. These hugely popular movies continue
to be major money makers for Disney and are
mainly responsible for the immensity of the
Disney empire. These movies have become a
part of our culture and national identity. Did
Disney think up these stories? No, they took
stories already in the public domain, added a
talking parrot and threw in a song or two.
The Disney movies are of course different
from the original texts. Victor Hugo's Quasi-
modo was far deeper character than any "Dis-
neyfied" morality tale could ever allow for. Yet
it is within Disney's rights to modify and adapt
the story anyway they want. But how would
Disney react to any interpretations or adapta-
tions of Mickey? If you tried to reinterpret Fan-
tasia you would be up to your ears in lawsuits
faster than you could say "Never-Never Land."
The books these movies were based on
were originally copyrighted by their authors
and it would have been illegal to use and adapt
the stories without the permission of the author
(probably only acquired after the exchange of a
fat check).
Yet Disney was able to use these stories
without paying for them. After a certain period,

copyrights on books and other creations expire.
After that time, these creative works are con-
sidered part of the "public domain" and anyone
can use, adapt and interpret them without per-
mission. This is right and just. The role of
copyright, as it is enshrined in Article 1, Sec-
tion 8 of the U.S. Constitution, is "to promote
the progress of science and useful arts, by
securing for limited times (emphasis added) to
authors and inventors the exclusive right to
their respective writings and discoveries."
As it stands today, copyrights hold for 70
years after the death of the author and 95 years
total for copyrights held by corporations. After
this exceedingly long time, the work shifts into
the public domain. This explains why there are
so many different publishers selling the works
of Shakespeare. All in all, it's a pretty good
system - authors get plenty of time to profit
from and control their work (and thereby give
artists the incentive to continue to create) and
then the work becomes public so that people
can incorporate this old work into new things
without worries of copyright infringement.
In 1998, after extensive lobbying from Hol-
lywood, Congress passed the Sonny Bono
Copyright Term Extension Act which extended
copyrights by another 20 years. The act was
recently challenged in the Supreme Court by
Eric Eldred, who had tried to make Robert
Frost's poetry available on the web under the
assumption that the copyright on the material
published in 1923 had expired by 1998. His
appeal was just denied and now it seems copy-
rights might be extended continually.
You might think a company like Disney
that has benefited so much from expired copy-

rights would support Eldred. But now the situa-
tion is reversed. The copyrights Walt Disney
himself had on early versions of Mickey
Mouse and other cartoons were due to expire in
2004. If the law was overturned, Disney would
lose the copyright on Mickey.
Disney (and society) was provided with the
opportunity to benefit from public domain
laws, but now that opportunity is in jeopardy if
copyrights become held in perpetuity.
Keeping copyrights for so long benefits the
extreme few while hurting the majority. Soci-
ety does not benefit from having Michael Jack-
son own the copyright on all Beatles songs.
Originally in the United States, copyrights were
only granted for a maximum of 28 years. It is
important that copyrights expire at some point.
The recent Supreme Court ruling allowing
Congress to extend copyrights for another 20
years opens the door for a series of never-end-
ing extensions. Does anyone really think that
Disney will be ready to part with Mickey 20
years down the road?,
Just as we allow drug companies to keep
the patent on their drugs only long enough to
recoup costs and make a nice profit before we
open up the market to generic versions, so to
should it follow with copyrights.
Some things should not be copyrighted
any longer. AOL Time Warner owns the
copyright to "Happy Birthday" - and will
through at least 2021 - so at your next birth-
day, unless you want to pay the royalties,
don't sing it in public.
Jess Piskor can be reached


Roe v. Wade anniversary
should spark discussion
On Jan. 22, 1973, the Supreme Court ruled
that the "right of privacy ... is broad enough to
encompass a woman's decision whether or not
to terminate her pregnancy."
As we think upon the cultural ramifications
of that historical moment, we believe that a
clear resolution to this issue could unfold if ide-
ologues on both sides would cease their
rhetoric-work and let the ongoing work of grass
roots activists speak for itself.
This resolution involves an ethics of pre-
vention and care. Prevention is the most effec-
tive way of reducing abortions. Supporting
responsible sexual relations through informa-
tion about abstinence and safer sex practices is
When prevention fails, the ethic of care fol-
lows. This fall, a speaker from Feminists for
Life noted that most women do not freely
"choose" abortion, but are coerced into their
decision by lack of financial resources, family
or social pressure, and/or lack of access to ade-
quate health care among others.
Pro-choice groups have emphasized this
shameful situation for some time, but the point
is that more efforts should be directed towards
improving resources for pregnant women, be
they financial, medical or emotional. Pro-life
groups work very hard to provide resources and
emotional support for pregnant women and to
enable adoption. Planned Parenthood, a pro-
choice organization, devotes an overwhelming
portion of its resources towards pre-natal care
for low-income families. More of this work
remains to be done.
Most people agree that abortion should be
legal in cases of sexual abuse and health risks
posed to the mother. Most agree that abstinence
and contraception education are key to reducing
unplanned pregnancies. And most people agree
that substantial social resources should provide
support for pregnant women and infants.
So as you think about this debate, remem-
ber that rhetoric is an empty and divisive pur-
suit. Only informed action in the pursuit of
prevention and care will ever bring this volatile
chapter of U.S. history to a close.
Daily editorial lacked
evidence against Bush plan

According to the Daily, minority enroll-
ment at Texas state schools has been stag-
nant. Is there any evidence to support your
claim, or should we just take everything the
editorial board of a college newspaper as
The Daily's first critique of the 10 per-
cent plan is that it only considers numbers,
not people. Please, please point me to the
section of the University's now infamous
point system that actually considers the per-
son, not superficial qualities such as the
color of one's skin.
The next item the Daily mentions is that
the 10 percent plan relies on urban segrega-
tion to be effective. I think the Daily missed
the point. The plan was created to account for
geographical segregation, not to rely on it.
If we redistributed the approximately 85
percent black population of Detroit evenly
over the rest of the state of Michigan, the
plan would still work. The argument that
minorities were not given the same oppor-
tunities at the level of secondary education
would be thrown out because urban segre-
gation has been removed, so granting
admission to the top 10 percent of every
high school should include equal propor-
tions of every race. Bush's plan does not
pivot upon segregation, it simply accepts
that it is an unfortunate part of the society
in which we live.
How anyone can justify blindly granting
an edge to some in the admissions process
based solely on the color of their skin goes
against everything that equality means. I
seem to remember someone saying, "I have
a dream that my four children will one day
live in a nation where they will not be
judged by the color of their skin but by the
content of their character." Maybe I only
remember that because we share the same
birthday, but I thought there was another
reason, like the fact that his followers cry
for equality while demanding special con-
sideration for their unfortunate skin color.
My brother suggested an admissions
program that makes sense, which means it
will never be implemented anywhere. Do
this: Page one of the application has
name/address/phone number/RACE/etc.,
while pages two and beyond contain
grades, SAT scores and extracurricular
activities. The reviewer only gets to see
pages two and beyond after putting the
application in either the "accepted" or
"deferred/denied" pile, where it is reunited
with page one via the social security num-
ber. No race considerations. Only factors
that make up a person are considered.
Equality. Get it?

yet horrifying. I was carefully looking at the ads
for the upcoming Spring Break and the compa-
nies that try to sell this "holiday" to students.
Vulnerable students,
If you find yourself checking out these ads
for a great late-February getaway with your
friends, be wary as to what these companies
claim to offer. And if you find yourself with a
booked room at the Sandpiper Beacon in Pana-
ma Beach, Fla., you may be better off spread-
ing some sand across the carpet in your dorm
and turning the heat up to 90 degrees.
This "beach resort" boasts in their ad that
their establishment is "The Fun Place," but the
most fun you will have during your break at
the Sandpiper-Beacon is probably the nap on
the flight down to Florida. I went with three
friends and booked a trip there, not knowing
the first thing about Panama Beach, only using
the assumption that if this place has such a
large ad in the Daily then, by God, it must be
the biggest party resort ever!
While driving from the airport to the resort,
the first thing we noticed was that we were
moving farther away from where any students
or younger people were located. In Panama
Beach, there is "the strip" where all the resorts,
bars, clubs and hotels are located. We found
ourselves about three miles down "the strip"
from anybody close to our age.
The beach was barren except for me and
my friends, an older geriatric couple sleeping
upright in chairs propped in the sand, and a
group of 80-year-old men sitting in a hot tub
near the beach. It was so quiet you could actu-
ally hear me crying. We passed the time play-
ing shuffleboard with the eighty-year-old men
and drinking 30-packs in our "cabana" that
held two beds, a mini-fridge, a small bathroom,
and about three feet of turning space for our
bodies to fit inside.
Oh, and "Home of the world's largest and
longest keg party? What? What? I repeat: I
played shuffleboard with 80-year-old men - I
saw no kegs, no party. The only piece of ass
for miles had a pair of Depends strapped to it.
We finally got out of our little room at the
Sandpiper, lost our deposit and moved into the
Marriott down the road where there were
craploads of young people, beach parties, and a
shuttle that transported us to a series of bars
each night.
I feel that it was irresponsible for the Daily
to put this advertisement in the paper. Students
deserve a sunny break around the end of Feb-
ruary, not a disastrous experience like mine at
the Sandpiper Beacon.
We should understand that as students, we
are sometimes vulnerable to getting ripped off.
When it comes to credit cards - and especial-
ly when it comes to spring break offers - we






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