Mickey Copyright Expiry: Original Version Enters Public Domain on January 1, 2024!

Mickey Mouse’s copyright

On January 1, 2024, the original versions of two of the most popular characters in film and television, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, will enter the public domain. This will give creators the freedom to create all kinds of new projects with these characters. This could lead to movies and books similar to “Pooh Bear” and “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” which are based on other popular characters whose copyrights have expired. Mickey copyright has finally expired, making the original version eligible for public use starting January 1, 2024.

Entry of silent film Steamboat Willie

The silent film Steamboat Willie (released in 1928, directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks) will enter the public domain on January 1, 2024. With this, the original versions of Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse will also become part of the public domain.

Mickey copyright has finally expired, and the original version will be eligible from January 1, 2024

This marks the first time that the Mickey Copyright on the original version of the characters has expired, allowing them to be freely used by cartoonists, filmmakers, writers, and others. It’s a significant milestone for creators who have long been constrained by Disney’s lawsuits to prevent copyright infringement.

Mickey copyright Strategy: Balancing Public Domain and Corporate Interests

However, the Mickey Copyright remains on later versions of Mickey and Minnie, which subsequently appeared in numerous Disney movies and television shows. Disney has reassured fans and stakeholders that Mickey “will continue to play a leading role as a global ambassador for The Walt Disney Company,” as stated to The Associated Press.

Mickey copyright has finally expired, and the original version will be eligible from January 1, 2024

Other notable works entering the public domain in 2024 include D.H. Lawrence’s “Lady Chatterley’s Lover,” Virginia Woolf’s “Orlando,” Agatha Christie’s “The Secret of the Blue Train,” and “The House at Pooh Corner,” where Tigger first appears. These additions will allow for new creative interpretations and projects based on these classic works.

Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes works become public domain

In recent years, many notable works have entered the public domain, including the original Winnie the Pooh, The Great Gatsby, Metropolis, Alfred Hitchcock’s first thriller The Lodger, and the final works of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. This trend has opened up a wealth of opportunities for new adaptations and creative projects based on these classic stories and characters.

Mickey copyright has finally expired, and the original version will be eligible from January 1, 2024
Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes works become public domain

As a result of these copyright (Mickey Copyright) expirations, several new creative projects have emerged. For instance, a horror film based on Winnie the Pooh, with a sequel already in the works, and Netflix’s “Enola Holmes” series, featuring Sherlock Holmes’ sister as the protagonist. Additionally, parody projects like “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” have gained popularity, reimagining classic works by Jane Austen and other authors in fresh, unexpected ways.

Mickey and Minnie join other Disney characters

Mickey and Minnie now join a roster of Disney characters whose copyrights (like Mickey Copyright) have expired and entered the public domain, including Peter Pan, Bambi, the Little Mermaid, Snow White, and Cinderella. These beloved characters originally emerged from classic tales by authors like the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen, which Disney later adapted into iconic films and stories.

Mickey and Minnie join other Disney characters

Once the Mickey Copyright term expires, these characters can be freely used in a variety of new works, including books, movies, and music. Jennifer Jenkins from Duke University’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain remarked to entertainment industry magazine Variety, “It seems like the trend is, ‘Just add zombies.'”

Winnie the Pooh Released in 1,652

“Winnie the Pooh,” released in 1652 theaters in February, grossed $4.94 million (approximately 700 million yen) worldwide. The film portrays a dark twist where Pooh and his friend Piglet terrorize college students and their former companion Christopher Robin. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film received a 50% audience score and a 3% critic score. Initially, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse were set to enter the public domain in 1984, but the Copyright Act of 1976 extended all Mickey Copyright terms to 75 years, causing the Mickey Copyright for “Steamboat Willie” to expire in 2004.

Winnie the Pooh  Released in 1,652

Yes, that’s correct. The U.S. Congress indeed passed the Copyright Term Extension Act in 1998, often referred to as the Mickey Mouse Protection Act. This law extended Mickey Copyright terms by an additional 20 years beyond the previous 75-year term, effectively protecting works for a total of 95 years from their initial publication date. This extension was strongly supported by companies like Disney and organizations representing creators’ estates, such as the Motion Picture Association and the executor of George Gershwin’s estate. Steamboat Willie, released in 1928, is notable for popularizing Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse.

Yes, Steamboat Willie was groundbreaking as the world’s first animated work with synchronized sound and music, marking a significant technological advancement in animation. It quickly became immensely popular during its time. According to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, critics likened Mickey Mouse’s character in Steamboat Willie to a blend of Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, and Fred Astaire, highlighting its charismatic and influential portrayal.

Disney’s stance on Mickey Copyright protection became notorious through various legal battles, one notable case being against the Air Pirates, a group of cartoonists led by Dan O’Neill. In the 1970s, they published two cartoons featuring Mickey Mouse, which led to a lawsuit from Disney. This legal action underscored Disney’s aggressive stance on protecting its iconic characters and intellectual property, although opinions differ on whether the reputation for litigiousness is exaggerated.

Winnie the Pooh  Released in 1,652

Disney promptly responded to the Air Pirates’ comic parody of Mickey Mouse by initiating legal action. The comic depicted Mickey in controversial situations involving themes like sex and drugs. This led to a prolonged legal battle, culminating in a victory for Disney. Dan O’Neill, now 81 years old, ultimately agreed to a settlement where he pledged never to draw Mickey Mouse again. In a recent interview with Variety, he mentioned that he still faces the possibility of a $190,000 fine if he were to create any new artwork featuring Mickey Mouse.

For iconic figures like Sherlock Holmes, entering the public domain doesn’t shield them from all legal disputes. In 2020, Netflix faced a lawsuit from the estate of Arthur Conan Doyle over its portrayal of Holmes in the film “Enola Holmes.” Although Holmes’ early adventures were already in the public domain, the estate argued that certain character traits, such as warmth and emotion, appeared only in Doyle’s final works, which were still under Mickey Copyright protection at the time of the film’s release. However, these remaining copyrights expired in 2023, leading to the dismissal of the lawsuit.


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