Red Section Separator

By CARLoS BRAGA

Mickey Mouse copyright expires

Red Section Separator

Perhaps one of the most recognizable characters in the world, Mickey has been the face of The Walt Disney Company for nearly 100 years.  But very soon, Mickey Mouse's copyright will expire and some companies are already ready to take advantage of it! In less than ten years Steamboat Willie (1928), the first version of Mickey Mouse, will be 100 years old. And in 2024, after its 95th anniversary, the edition will enter the public domain.

Red Section Separator

What Will Disney Do?

The truth is that Disney has already managed to change the legislation several times to maintain ownership of its company's most famous character. However, now, The Walt Disney Company has given no indication that it will attempt another move. Everything indicates that a new wave of challenges is on the way. Disney will have to use other arguments and resources to preserve the rights of its Big Boss, when it falls into everyone's hands, by law.

Red Section Separator

Mickey's Copyright

As some Disney fans may know, if copyright law is not amended by then to allow for an extension, it is plausible that a company could make its own merchandise using Mickey Mouse's image as long as he uses his original 1928 image. . And after that, your 1929 appearances can be used in 2025, 1930 in 2026 and so on.

Red Section Separator

Other Companies May Use Mickey's Image

And that's exactly what the MSCHF company is trying to do. They plan to make the first Mickey Mouse collectible from an outside brand, dubbed The Famous Mouse Collectible in the meantime.

Red Section Separator

Mickey's Copyright History

When it was created, copyright law allowed protection for a maximum of 56 years, but Disney lobbied to change that rule and managed to pass the Copyright Act of 1976. With the implementation of this new law, works published after 1922 gained 75 years of protection. But those 75 years expired in 2003, so once again Disney decided to extend the deadline.

Red Section Separator

Mickey's Copyright History

They pressed Congress again, and the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, called the Mickey Mouse Protection Act, was born. That law is what extended copyright protection for 95 years, pushing the deadline to 2024. If Disney wants to, they can try this strategy again before 2024 arrives.

Red Section Separator

Copyright Laws And The Mickey Mouse Public Domain

The first copyright law appeared in the United States in 1909. It allowed the author to keep and benefit from his work for 56 years. However, in 1984, Mickey Mouse was supposed to be in the public domain, but that didn't happen.

Red Section Separator

This decade saw the company's first attempt to retain its Mickey Mouse rights. In 1976, the United States Congress, acting on Disney's interventions, passed a new law that extended the copyright period for works that were not yet in the public domain from 56 to 75 years. Therefore, Mickey Mouse Steamboat Willie will be protected until 2003.

Red Section Separator

Benefits of the Mickey Mouse Protection Act

With this big jump from 56 to 95 years of copyright ownership, Disney was not the only beneficiary of these legislations. Obviously, if it weren't for her, other companies could risk the onslaught to propose an extension of the expiration date of the domain of a work. No doubt Disney had the strength to do this and it didn't want to risk seeing its most profitable character fall into the public domain.

Red Section Separator

By protecting Mickey, other companies could also continue to profit from their own characters. How:  – Batman (1939) – Superman (1938) – Spider-Man (1962) – Captain America (1940) – Longlegs (1940) – X-Men (1963) – Tom and Jerry (1940) – The Flintstones (1960) – The Jetsons (1962) – Woodpecker (1940)

Red Section Separator

What changes for Disney in 2024

The reality is that the version of Mickey Mouse that will fall into the Public Domain is the one that is least on the shelves. Mickey reappears in commemorative times, in fact, in the exhibitions of the 90 years of the character that we had in 2018 and 2019 and now with the 50 years of Walt Disney World. Since nostalgia is a lucrative business, the character's 95th birthday celebration is just around the corner, in 2023.

Red Section Separator

It's its last anniversary before it passes into the public domain. In the 100 years, which will take place in 2028, many things must be different. And the question remains, what can Disney do?