Mickey Mouse Could Enter Public Domain Status By 2024

Disney’s exclusive rights to Mickey Mouse expires on 2024 thus making the character come into public domain. Currently, US Copyright Law allows exclusivity for 95 years. While, Mickey Mouse made his first appearance on November 18, 1928 in the film Steamboat Willie, the exclusivity ends November 2023. This puts it in public domain immediately afterwards.

Dailymail.co.uk expounds that there actually have been two instances that Disney was allowed extension of exclusivity in the past. First, it was when the company successfully extended the protections from 56 years to 75 years. This was the Copyright Act of 1976. Second, was in 1998 where Disney got the protection for 96 years from the 75 years.

Mickey Mouse Enters Public Domain Status By 2024

Mickey Mouse Could Enter Public Domain Status By 2024

Image: Disney

Once again, the clock is ticking for the iconic mouse. And people have eyes on Disney on whether they will set Mickey Mouse free. Of course the entertainment giant will do what ever it takes to keep its hold. They have only but over a year to get everything done. However, extending their rights not once but twice is already a feat on its own. Will they be able to do so for a third? Could an entity actually achieve perpetual ownership?

Mickey Mouse equals Disney in association. Whenever one sees even just the three circles placed in such a specific way, it is always readily assumed to be a ‘Hidden Mickey’. Numerous films, animated or live actions as well as prints or mini series plant this iconic image and the public knows Mickey, ergo Disney. One is always associated with the other and vice versa.

Keeping Mickey Mouse exclusive to the Walt Disney Company would ensure the image will always be intact. It would guarantee that Mickey Mouse will not go down the road that Winnie the Pooh went to as soon as the character entered public domain this year as well. Pooh could be Mickey’s precautionary tale. Winnie the Pooh fans just had to say “oh dear” to the recent depiction of Pooh and Piglet as serial killers in a horror film. The innocent, happy and everything-good that is Pooh is completely dropped in the movie. Even though the creators did not exactly do something illegal, they did everyone who loves the character wrong. People just have to honor the fact that these are characters for kids. They teach life lessons through fun and happy moments in their stories.

Mickey Mouse Enters Public Domain Status By 2024

Mickey Mouse Could Enter Public Domain Status By 2024

Image: Joshua Sudock

But what if Disney doesn’t get the extension again? There will definitely be pros and cons to this development. What is advantageous is that new stories and adventures can feature Mickey Mouse without the need for Disney’s permission. Mickey can cross media and art. He can be used as inspiration for different forms of art in visual, print or music. But the disadvantage is the content and delivery of stories or products using his likeness and name.

Winnie the Pooh can now have new stories and adventures that anybody can write and create. They can do so without having the fear of getting sued. However, the content of the writing and delivery of the creation is left wanting. Should there be a policy for these types of artform?

That if a specific art enters public domain, the use of these have to adhere to certain parameters. Then again, won’t that go against freedom of expression?

Oh boy! What a pickle!


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