On January 1, 2024, Disney's sole claim to the copyright for classic characters Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and the 1928 short film “Steamboat Willie”. Here's why...

Disney And Mickey
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Disney Loses Copyright For Mickey Mouse

Mickey Mouse is one of the most iconic and beloved cartoon characters created by The Walt Disney Company.

The iconic character made his debut on November 18, 1928, in the animated short film "Steamboat Willie".

Mickey's girlfriend, Minnie Mouse, also debuted alongside him, and the two characters have become the ultimate power couple in the world of Disney.

The character of Mickey Mouse has evolved over the years, adapting to changing times while always maintaining his timeless appeal.

Magical World of Disney On Ice Opening Night
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From toys, clothing, theme parks, and just about every other product imaginable, Mickey's image can be found making him one of hugest and most important cultural icon in the world.

However, as of January 1, 2024, Disney no longer owns the sole copyright to Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and Tigger.

From QZ.com -

"The very first version of Mickey Mouse, featured in Walt Disney Co.’s 1928 short film 'Steamboat Willie,' entered the public domain for the first time yesterday (Jan. 1)

"Because US law allows copyright to be held for just 95 years, Disney’s sole claim to the character has officially ended. And it’s not just Mickey Mouse that people can share, adapt, or remix, but all characters in 'Steamboat Willie,' including the first iteration of Minnie Mouse."

Photo by Mark Ashman/Disney via Getty Images
Photo by Mark Ashman/Disney via Getty Images

The law states that though the original 1928 versions of Mickey and Minnie Mouse are now public domain, the newer versions of the characters are still protected under copyright law.

Any use of the original Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, or Tigger must not, in any way, lead people to think it's associated with Disney.

Copyright Protection Expires On Earliest Version Of Mickey Mouse
(Photo illustration by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Now that the original character of Mickey Mouse is in the public domain, there's already a horror Mickey Mouse video game slated to come out as well as at least two rumored horror movies.

Read more at QZ.com.

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