Cory (and BB) seem to be fairly critical of Disney, including on copyright abuse. I think it's ok to talk about inspiration or story outside of that criticism.
Because of Mickey Mouse, copyright lasts, effectively, forever -- for
sufficiently narrow definitions of "copyright" and sufficiently broad
definitions of "forever."
You see, most English-language science fiction writers make most of
their money with US publications, and in the US, copyright shows no
sign of expiring.
Mickey Mouse. Copyright law was formulated as a limited monopoly
granted to a creator over his or her works for a finite period, as a
means of convincing creators to make more art and inventions. The idea
is that after a while, your work enters the public domain, which means
that anyone can reprint it, quote it, use the characters, whatever --
think of Mary Shelley, Poe, Twain, and so on.
Problem is, nothing since Mickey Mouse has entered the public domain.
The legal eagles at Disney have gone to US Congress every twenty years or
so and lobbied -- successfully -- for another twenty years tacked on to the duration of copyright.
-- Cory Doctorow - (Excerpted from this letter: http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/crp-prda.nsf/eng/rp00239.html)