Mickey Mouse will enter the public domain on January 1, 2024

Originally published at: Vintage Mickey Mouse Version Free for Public Use in 2024


I believe the “trademark” exception is exactly why they started using that clip from Steamboat Willie in the Walt Disney Animation Studios logo several years ago. It provides a stronger legal pretense to go after anyone who uses the film in a way they don’t like.


And of course, trademark protection is ‘use it or lose it’, so it has to appear somewhere if they want to claim it.


Yeah, they probably made the right decision selecting that clip rather than the one with the sow and her suckling piglets.

(Warning: he yanks on piglet tails and kicks a piglet, then does something even worse.)


Just a few years back I had a class in my MBA studies that talked about the “Mickey Mouse Protection Act”, aka copyright extension act. It was amazing how many people, at that education level, didn’t understand the difference between copyright and trademark…luckily the professor did.

I really hate how long we have copyright protection. There’s so much creative thought that ends up deferred for decades because of it and, well, money. If you make something truly original, that’s what your trademark is for.


I like the slightly more subversive looking Mickey that’s now coming off copyright.

I wanna make a T shirt of Steamboat Mickey; seems like it would be a fun trolley of disney to see how far they want to push the trademark protection and wear it to a Disney park.


Agreed that copyright protections are definitely way too long. But I’m not sure I follow you on the purpose of a trademark. Trademarks exist to help establish a brand in order to avoid any confusion or trickery about who you’re dealing with when buying a product or whatever. But they don’t primarily exist to protect creative works. You can’t trademark the full text of a novel or a technical patent or full 2-hour long film.


Trademarks don’t have to be original at all. The name Captain Marvel certainly wasn’t original when Marvel Comics trademarked it. They just took advantage of the fact that DC had allowed the trademark to expire.

As @Otherbrother pointed out above, the purpose of a trademark is actually to protect consumers as much as it is to protect the rights of the IP holder. Without trademarks, anyone could produce a sneaker with a swoosh on it and make consumers think it was a genuine Nike. Well…that does happen now, anyway, but it is illegal and there are recourses for going after companies who do that, because of trademark law. This is also why you can have two businesses with virtually the same name, both trademarked, as long as they are in completely different industries/markets. There’s no chance of brand confusion.

Copyright, on the other hand, exists solely to protect the copyright holder, who often isn’t the creator, sadly. And yes, it is waaaaay too long.


Doctorow’s recommendation of a non-transferable rights reversion period feels like one of the best suggestions I’ve heard. Keeps publishers from requiring all creators to fork over their long-term rights just to get the thing out into peoples’ eyes.

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So when does the Steamboat Willie slasher movie go into production?

Near the top of my all time favorite songs.


So soon, this can return to YouTube from its Dailymotion purgatory?

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Squeak The Mouse?

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That’s a very good article, thanks. Looks like a good year coming up! (And I guess they’ll only get better as the march of time progresses). Some other highlights:

Orlando: A Biography, Virginia Woolf

And the pinnacle of human creative achievement that is
Yes! We Have No Bananas,” Furman and Nash (and several other versions)


Perhaps the greatest surprise of this year is that Disney didn’t or couldn’t find a way to extend copyright infinitely, or at least another 50 years.

It feels Sunny Bono sold his soul and is writhing and burning in IP Hell for nothing.


That’s in large part due to a change in the political equation thanks to grassroots efforts as well as organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation. (Thanks Cory!) They wouldn’t have been able to get such legislation slipped in under the radar and avoid massive public protests like they did in the past, so organizations like Disney and the MPAA knew it would be bad PR. They made public statements at least 5 years ago saying that they weren’t going to make a push to extend it again.


I had no idea the novels were so old! Thanks to Roger Moore (and the Ian Olgivy remake) Simon Templar will always the suave spirit of swinging London to me.



By the way, Leslie Charteris died in 1993, so his novels are still in copyright in Britain and probably most countries outside the USA, assuming that he personally held the copyrights.

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