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Monday, July 4, 2022 – Cartoon character, Mickey Mouse will be available for the public domain in 2024, following U.S. copyright laws that state intellectual property on artistic work expires at the 95-year mark after first publication.
Mickey Mouse first appeared in the 1920s and has become one of the most recognizable animated characters while also becoming a symbol for media conglomerate Disney.
When Mickey first appeared in 1928, Disney’s copyright was protected for 56 years but as the cartoon character approached the end of its copyright, Disney successfully lobbied for the Copyright Act of 1976 which extended protections to 75 years.
In 1998, Disney lobbied for a further extension, giving it protection for 95 years which expires in 2024. Once the copyright expires, anyone wishing to use characters or concepts from Mickey will not have to request permission or pay copyright charges.
As recently as January 2022, another cartoon character, Winnie the Pooh entered the public domain after its copyright expired.
Since then, the children’s character has been portrayed as a serial killer in horror movie Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Horror.
American copyright laws give authors protection for their original work. However, those rights are subjected to a time limit, which is usually 70 years after the death of the author or 95 years after publication of the work.
Mickey as its currently know first debuted in the film ‘Steamboat Willie,’ premiered at what was then the Colony Theatre on Broadway on November 18, 1928.
One of the first cartoons to use synchronized sound and music, the film would make Mickey a star.
He has appeared in over 130 films next to his girlfriend Minnie Mouse, dog Pluto and friends Donald Duck and Goofy, among others.