As a consequence of US copyright law, entertainment giant Disney could soon lose the exclusive rights to some of the characters most responsible for the brand’s universal recognition, including the mouse that acts as its mascot.
Mickey Mouse will enter the public domain in the year 2024, almost 95 years after his creation on 1 October 1928 – the length of time after which the copyright on an anonymous or pseudo-anonymous body of artistic work expires.
Daniel Mayeda is the associate director of the Documentary Film Legal Clinic at UCLA School of Law, as well as a longtime media and entertainment lawyer. He said the copyright expiration does not come without limitations.
“You can use the Mickey Mouse character as it was originally created to create your own Mickey Mouse stories or stories with this character. But if you do so in a way that people will think of Disney – which is kind of likely because they have been investing in this character for so long – then in theory, Disney could say you violated my copyright.”
Mickey Mouse first appeared in the black and white cartoon Steamboat Willie. The cartoon was a pioneer in animation for its use of synchronized sound – where movements on screen correspond to the music and sound effects, launching one of the most recognizable images in film and television.
According to the National Museum of American History: “Over the years, Mickey Mouse has gone through several transformations to his physical appearance and personality. In his early years, the impish and mischievous Mickey looked more rat-like, with a long pointy nose, black eyes, a smallish body with spindly legs and a long tail.”
While this first rat-like iteration of Mickey will be stripped of its copyright, Mayeda said DisneyRead more on theguardian.com