Mickey Mouse Enters Public Domain
Disney’s 1928 short film Steamboat Willie, which features early non-speaking versions of Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, entered the public domain on Monday, 1 January.
Laws in America allow copyright to be held for 95 years, which previously restricted independent creatives from reworking or using the characters. The copyright laws have previously been extended multiple times over the years, as Disney strongly advocated to keep their rights protected.
Artists, developers, writers, and any other creative who would like to use the characters will need to be careful as they will not be allowed to use modern versions of the pair. Creatives will only be allowed to recreate the mute, mischievous, and “rat-like” versions of the two.
A spokesperson for Disney told an international publication: “We will, of course, continue to protect our rights in the more modern versions of Mickey Mouse and other works that remain subject to copyright.”
The entertainment company has previously been stringent about protecting its copyrights, going so far as to demand that a childcare centre in Florida remove a mural of Minnie Mouse and reportedly prevent a stonemason from carving Winnie-the-Pooh into a child’s gravestone.
However, many excited people are charging ahead, as trailers for a horror film called “Mickey’s Mouse Trap” and a video game have already been released.
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