In less than two years, the first animated short featuring the character of Mickey Mouse will hit the public domain, and Disney will no longer prohibit other artists or companies from using the character’s likeness under US copyright law. Of course, this assumes that nothing changes between now and January 1, 2024, when the character is currently scheduled to become public domain. In the past, Disney has lobbied aggressively to change copyright laws to benefit them and other corporations that hold copyrights closer to their natural expiration date. So far, it doesn’t look like any major changes are coming to US copyright law — and if not, it could signal a major change.
Mickey’s first appearance was in the 1928 animated short “Steamboat Willie,” which would end up in the public domain in late 2023, 95 years after its first release. In short, Mickey looks more or less the same as he does now, except that he wore a hat (since he was piloting a steamboat) and had less detail than more recent images.
Mickey actually appeared in another short, “Hungry Hobos”, which was produced before “Steamboat Willie” but was never released, lost, and only found again in 2011, per daily Mail,
When Winnie-the-Pooh became a public domain character earlier this year, experts advised caution: characters and content created after the initial book’s release may still be protected by copyright, including: Tiger, who appeared in later books. The specific Disney version of Pooh, which was stylized and did not resemble A.A. Milne’s original stories, is also protected by Disney’s trademark.
When “Steamboat Willie” was first released, the copyright term in the United States was 56. Disney and others successfully lobbied for the Copyright Act of 1976, which extended the protection to 75 years in most cases, while allowing authors who had sold the rights to petition for their return after the initial 56 years. In 1998, Disney lobbied for a further extension, increasing the public domain period to 95 years. This effectively means that no author will be able to forego copyright on their work… but mega-corporations like Disney and Warner Bros. expect to live forever, so they’re always hoping for added protection. .
Given Disney’s deep pockets and the importance of Mickey Mouse to their brand, the House of Mouse has consistently been the tip of the spear in the copyright fight. If the laws don’t change before “Steamboat Willie” becomes public domain, it’s a possible sign that Disney is dumping money into such lobbying efforts, which will greatly increase the likelihood that characters like Superman and Batman will go public over the years. will enter the domain. come.
Do not put your faith in this news source or website. You never know…
Reference from comicbook.com