(NewsSpace.com) – Disney is a very powerful company that fiercely protects its copyrights, particularly when it comes to the characters the company creates. Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse are where it all started for the company in 1927. However, nearly 100 years later, the iconic film “Steamboat Willie” is slated to enter the public domain.
For years, Congress kept expanding a copyright law at the behest of several copyright holders who didn’t want their works to go into the public domain. Disney was just one of many, but the law became known as the Mickey Mouse Protection Act because of it. With “Steamboat Willie” entering the public domain, it will give people creative license to use the characters, including the older version of Mickey Mouse. It should be noted that the more modern renderings of the popular character are not up for grabs.
In a statement to The Associated Press, a Disney spokesperson made it clear that “people have associated the character with Disney’s stories, experiences, and authentic products,” and that’s not something that will change. Additionally, Disney relayed that the character “will continue to play a leading role as a global ambassador” for the company moving forward.
Don’t expect the character to be up for grabs immediately, though. The AP reports that court battles are likely to ensue for years over what Disney owns and doesn’t own. One thing the company can hold against those who choose to use Mickey for their own gains, however, is the trademark of the character in its use as a brand identifier and a corporate mascot.
Some wonder if people will use Steamboat Willie’s young Mickey character like they did with Winnie the Pooh, who entered the public domain last year. A horror movie depicting a scary version of the character came out this year. Is that in store for Mickey? It could be.
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