Mickey Mouse Characters Enter the Public Domain


Yesterday the Mickey Mouse character featured in the animated Steamboat Willie from 1928 officially entered the public domain. This means that anyone can use the Mickey Mouse designs from this animation without having to pay royalties to Disney. This is because according to US intellectual property laws, any media that is 95 years old will automatically enter the cloud domain.

Originally Disney's rights to the design of the Steamboat Willie character were supposed to expire in 1998 but after the Copyright Act of 1976 was amended, the author's copyright was extended to 70 years and the company's copyright was extended to 95 years.

Although Mickey Mouse's design from the animated Steamboat Willie is now in the public domain, people are not allowed to use Mickey Mouse's name and voice style in their creations. Disney holds the trademark for the name. People also cannot create content that is then attributed to Disney. The colored Mickey designs used by Disney on theme parks and various products also do not enter the public domain.

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