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Mickey Mouse Enters the Public Domain

Mickey Mouse Enters the Public Domain

It’s officially 2024, the start of a new year. The New Years means a different thing to everyone, but to Disney, it means that the early version of their iconic character, Micky mouse is officially public domain. In 1928 Disney released the cartoon Steamboat Willie, Steamboat Willie introduced Minnie and Mickey mouse. Only, 95 years later, Steamboat Willie and the characters in it are finally public domain. But, what does this mean? After a while, pieces of media that were protected under copyright become public domain, this means that they aren’t protected by copyright anymore and you can use them however you want. Steamboat Willie has reached that point and is no longer protected by copyright, so you can use the cartoons and its characters in any way without worrying about getting sued or whatever. Something that is important to note though, is that Mickey mouse has evolved enough over the years that the more modern versions of him and the Steamboat Willie version of him are considered different characters, therefore modern versions of Mickey are still protected by copyright. (for now at least)

 

This is especially interesting because there is a history of copyright laws extending right around the time when the original Mickey Mouse is about to become public domain, in part because of lobbying by Disney to extend them. But, they couldn’t keep delaying the date Mickey becomes public domain forever. Mickey had to become public domain at some point and apparently that point was January 1st 2024.

 

Now that the original Mickey Mouse is public domain, it means that people can make anything they want about him legally. There has already been a horror movie about the original Mickey announced, and it wouldn’t be surprising if more stuff like that were to be announced in the following years. But, that is the point of the public domain, to make it easier to make art. In fact, a lot of Disney’s most famous movies are retellings of public domain stories. The Fairy tales that Disney retold are public domain, most of which find their origins a long time ago and have evolved over time from being told by so many people. So it kinda makes sense that the Mickey Mouse character goes to the public so that a similar thing can happen to him.

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About the Contributor
Evie Courtney, Editor/Writer
I'm Evie Courtney and I'm an editor for the Bulldog Brief! I joined journalism in the 2023-24 school year as an 8th grader...

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  • M

    McKenna Weable ¦ Feb 22, 2024 at 11:47 am

    I like this article because it mentions Micky mouse and kept me entertained.

    Reply
  • M

    McKenna Weable ¦ Feb 22, 2024 at 11:45 am

    Wow I love mickey mouse

    Reply
  • B

    Bradley Stagg ¦ Feb 22, 2024 at 11:43 am

    This is very well written, i learned a lot more about it.

    Reply
  • C

    Clara Bakkane ¦ Jan 31, 2024 at 10:20 am

    Can you call him Mickey Mouse, or does he have to be called “Steamboat Willie”

    Reply
    • E

      Evelyn Strong ¦ Feb 22, 2024 at 11:28 am

      pretty sure it has to be Steamboat Willie

      Reply
    • B

      benyamin wardak ¦ Feb 22, 2024 at 12:25 pm

      you can still call him mickey.

      Reply