Disclaimer: I am not a copyright expert, it is possible that I’ve made some mistakes or falsely interpreted the meaning of Mickey Mouse Steamboa Willie’s” copyright expiration. I suggest you doing your own research before using this property. Thescreenwritersjournal.com is not responsible for any mistakes you make
Mickey Mouse is one of – if not the most iconic character of all time. He made his first appearence in an 8 minute long shortfilm called “Mickey Mouse Steamboat Willie”. It came out on the 18th of November, 1928. Meaning that due to American copyright law this 100% of this project will be in the hands of public domain, once it’s completed it’s 95 years after publication.
So starting 18th November 2024 you are legally in the right to reproduce Mickey Mouse in ANY form you wish. Want your movie to open up with an eight minute cartoon mouse on a boat for some reason? Now you can do that. Want to make a movie taking place in the 20s and want it to have a scene of a kid watching a cartoon? Now you can do that. Want to sell copies of Mickey Mouse Steamboat Willie? Now you can do that. ALL without having to pay Disney any sort of fees.
Here’s what I bet ya’ll came for. The big fat catch. Mickey Mouse in itself isn’t actually public domain. The only Mickey Mouse property being released into public domain as of November 18th 2024 is “Mickey Mouse Steamboat Willie”. You will be able to use that SPECIFIC property however you like. The copyright expiration only effects the 1928 shortfilm, not any of the other countless incarnations of the character, though they will as time moves forward eventually join public domain.
So here’s what you can use Mickey for:
The Film – The entirety of the film will join public domain. You will therefor be allowed to make your own works/ stories based on the shortfilm. Just be careful you don’t accidentally copy another pre-existing Mickey Mouse story.
The character – The original figure of Mickey Mouse. Meaning you can use him in any way or form. Though I would not recommend changing his appearence, in the circumstance you might accidentally infringe on a seperate copyrighted work that could have a simular appearance.
No eyes – The original Mickey Mouse had no “realy eyes” instead pairing a pair of pitch black spots on his head
Outfit – Only the classic Mickey Mouse outfit with the shoes, hat and shorts will be public domain
Black and White – The shortfim was in black and white, to avoid any possible lawsuits from Disney, I’d recommend not giving him color
So in exactly three years time you’ll be able to do whatever you want with the old-fashioned Disney mouse.