Mickey, Minnie Mouse’s older versions now public domain


A few days after Disney lost control over the copyright of the popular mouse characters Mickey and Minnie’s earlier versions, these famous mice are already appearing in what is a social media sketch and prank video.

Not only has Mickey’s characteristic flute been transformed into a dubstep tune, but people are now letting this character curse, open fire on people and even sink the Titanic.

A trailer for a horror movie, titled Mickey Mouse’s Trap, in which a killer in a distorted Mickey Mouse mask attacks a group of young people in an amusement park, has also just been released. However, the movie’s producers are still struggling to secure a distributor for the film.

Nightmare Forge, a video game developer, also released a trailer on Monday for Infestation 88, a horror game with a ghostly Mickey haunting a dark warehouse. Fumi, another developer, also unveiled a shooter game called Mouse, which goes on a bloody rampage.

The sudden digital boom of Mickey Mouse and his girlfriend, Minnie, comes after the 1928 short, Steamboat Willie,’s copyright expired on January 1 this year.

For decades, Disney has fiercely protected the copyrights of two of the most recognizable characters in the world. The copyright on Steamboat Willie initially would have already expired in 1984, but Disney successfully opposed it in court, and legislation was amended for copyright to only expire after the author or creator of a publication has died, plus another 50 years.

Then, in 1998, Disney, along with other entertainment companies such as Universal, again opposed the expiration of the copyright and the legislation was again modified to expire only 95 years after initial publication. This extension of the copyright on Steamboat Willie provided protection for Mickey and Minnie until the end of 2023.

This means the older versions of the characters can now be used in any way by anyone in the US to create new stories and artwork.

However, copyright varies from country to country, which means Steamboat Willie will remain protected until at least 2024 in some jurisdictions that provide protection for works up to 70 years after the death of the last surviving creator or author – and Steamboat Willie ‘s co-creator, Ub Iwerks, did not die until 1971.

although Steamboat Willie in the US and other countries has lost its copyright, Mickey Mouse as he is known today is still protected under strict copyright.

Other famous works published in 1928 and in the public domain as of January 1 are Virginia Woolf’s OrlandoJM Barrie’s Peter Pan, All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque and Winnie-the-Pooh’s Tigger.

When Winnie-the-Pooh lost his copyright protection in 2022, he also had a killer in the horror movie, Blood and Honeybecame.

In Steamboat Willie Mickey has a sharper nose, long tail and no pupils or voice. Later versions of Mickey, with his big eyes and red shorts, are still protected by copyright. However, it will also become publicly owned over the coming decades.

However, Mickey is also a brand that can be renewed indefinitely by Disney. This still gives companies some control over a character.

Disney, which is known for protecting its characters at all costs, has made it clear that it is watching innovators worldwide with a hawk’s eye.

“More modern versions of Mickey will not through the expiration of Steamboat Willie ‘s copyright will not be affected, and Mickey will henceforth serve as a global ambassador for the Walt Disney Company’s storytelling, park attractions and merchandise,” the company said earlier.

Check here Steamboat Willie.

Additional source: The Guardian