Copyright Disney and Mickey Mouse

Disney will soon lose the copyright of the first Mickey Mouse

ivan rodriguez gelfenstein

R. Gelfenstein - In 2024, the first version of Disney's Mickey Mouse will go into the public domain. In the United States, copyright on original works lasts up to 70 years after the creator's death.

In the case of work carried out anonymously, semi-anonymously or by an employee in the exercise of his activity, they have a duration of 95 years.

Although the first version of Mickey Mouse is about to lose legal protection, the mouse has undergone some transformations since 1928, and later versions will remain protected until its 95th anniversary.

While Disney may lose the copyright to "Steamboat Willie," it can still retain some rights if that version of the mouse is recognized as a trademark.

"The first question is whether Disney uses 'Steamboat Willie' not only as a character but also as a symbol of Disney," Jane Ginsburg, a professor of literary and artistic property law at Columbia Law School, told DW.

If the version of Mickey Mouse seen on "Steamboat Willie" is considered a symbol of Disney, the company can say it's a brand. That means people can use the characters, but it has to be done in a way that doesn't confuse working with Disney.

If someone makes an effort to create an original work, you might think they should get the rights in perpetuity. So why do authors and inventors only have limited property rights?

The patent and copyright clause of the U.S. Constitution states that Congress has the power to "promote the advancement of science and the useful arts by granting authors and inventors exclusive rights over their respective writings and discoveries for a limited period of time."

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