Mickey Mouse’s Screen Debut Now Belongs To the Public

Mickey Mouse

Last year, Disney celebrated their hundredth anniversary. This year, their earliest form of Mickey Mouse “Steamboat Willie” has entered public domain.

Though there’s still some restrictions involved in using the intellectual property, it’s at least free from Disney’s gripping hands. And we’re not talking just about Mickey, because Minnie was also a feature in Mickey’s first screen release. 2024 just killed two birds with one stone, or should I say two rats?

Why Public Domain Mickey Mouse Isn’t As Exciting As One Might Hope

Mickey Mouse is not the only intellectual property to go into the public domain in 2024, but Mickey is one of America’s most important pop culture characters, so it’s not a surprise that there’s more attention to it.

“This is it. This is Mickey Mouse. This is exciting because it’s kind of symbolic,” professor Jennifer Jenkins, of law and director of Duke’s Center for the Study of Public Domain, said. She is also known for penning an annual Jan. 1 article for “Public Domain Day.” ”I kind of feel like the pipe on the steamboat, like expelling smoke. It’s so exciting.”

Mickey Mouse

Jennifer Jenkins is not the only person excited to hear that the goofy black-and-white mouse will become public property. However, this excitement is mired by the limitations this ownership comes with.

In case you’re wondering, no, artists and content creators can only be able to make use of – and monetize – Mickey Mouse in all its “Steamboat Willie” glory. That means all we got is a mischievous, rat-like, and non-speaking boat captain.

What Disney Has To Say About “Steamboat Willie” Mickey Mouse Going Public

There’s going to be a lot of talks on what falls inside and outside Disney’s ownership, in terms of character behaviors and traits. Despite this, Disney has vowed to continue protecting their copyrighted materials in a press release.

“More modern versions of Mickey will remain unaffected by the expiration of the Steamboat Willie copyright, and Mickey will continue to play a leading role as a global ambassador for the Walt Disney Company in our storytelling, theme park attractions, and merchandise,” Disney revealed in a statement.

“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 company said.

Be sure to catch up on everything happening with Disney right now. Come back here often for all Mickey Mouse spoilers, news, and updates.

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