Mickey Mouse made his big screen debut in 1928 in the short film Steamboat Willie. Current copyright law in the United States states that after a period of 95 years, an invented character becomes part of the public domain. This would allow people to create their own stories or movies from 2024 with Mickey’s original design in mind. However, subsequent mouse designs remain protected from copyright infringement.
However, attorney Daniel Mayeda believes Mickey will remain protected for some time, even if a new story is made with his old design. “If you’re creating a story that will make Disney think — which is very obvious because they’ve invested so long in this character — then, in theory, Disney could say that their copyright has been violated,” a- he told IPS. The Guardian†
Over the years, US copyright law has changed several times. With the last amendment in 1998, the term of copyright was extended from 75 to 95 years. It remains unclear whether Disney will attempt to change the law, as the company has done in the past. In this case, Mickey Mouse could probably be protected longer from a possible takeover in the public domain.
Earlier this year, copyright to Winnie the Pooh, created by writer AA Milne and later used by Disney in various media, expired. That’s why an independent horror movie will soon be released with the famous yellow bear in the lead role. Actor Ryan Reynolds also recently used Pooh Bear in his own commercial in which Winnie is a bear with an exorbitant phone bill.
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