Say What, Say Who, Say How?! Mickey And Minnie Mouse Will No Longer Be Owned By Disney.

Say What, Say Who, Say How?! Mickey And Minnie Mouse Will No Longer Be Owned By Disney.

"On January 1, 2024, The Walt Disney Company will no longer own the rights to its iconic characters, Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

As Mickey and Minnie enter the public domain in the New Year, the company will no longer have exclusive copyright of the early versions of the character — meaning anyone can use the two cartoon mice in paintings, cartoons, novels, songs, etc.

This has been an ongoing battle for many artists, including artist Dan O’Neill, who used Mickey and Minnie in his underground comic book, “Air Pirates Funnies.” In the comic, Mickey was seen smuggling drugs and performing sexual acts on Minnie Mouse.

Disney, of course, sued O’Neill at the time for copyright infringement, and, in order to avoid jail time, the artist agreed to never draw Mickey or Minnie again.

“It’s still a crime for me,” O’Neill said of the lawsuit from years ago.“If I draw a picture of Mickey Mouse, I owe Walt Disney a $190,000 fine, $10,000 more for legal fees, and a year in prison.”

Mickey Mouse quickly became the mascot of The Walt Disney Company and a symbol of the Disney brand ever since he was created by Walt Disney and starred in his first short, “Steamboat Willie” in 1928. Shortly after drawing Mickey, Walt Disney drew him a girlfriend — queue Ms. Minnie Mouse, an adorable female mouse with a polka-dot dress and a big bow on her head.

Just one month after creating “Steamboat Willie,” Walt Disney officially registered the Mickey Mouse character for copyright protection. Mickey Mouse is also considered a “work made for hire” (“WMFH”) copyright, which means the employer is deemed to be the author and therefore owns all rights associated with the work under copyright law. In other words, the Mickey Mouse copyright was created by an employee for his employer, the Walt Disney Corporation.

Over the years, Mickey and Minnie have both appeared in several cartoons, comic strips, films, and merchandise, some of which were not by the Walt Disney Company, resulting in lawsuits due to copyright infringement. Now, Disney will no longer be able to sue as Mickey and Minnie Mouse will enter the public domain.

“This is a big one,” Jennifer Jenkins, director of the Duke Center for the Study of the Public Domain, said of the historic moment. “It’s generating so much excitement in the copyright community — it’s finally happening.”

Mickey Mouse has become extremely popular for decades, making him one of the most recognizable and beloved characters worldwide. The moment you see those red shorts and bright yellow shoes, you immediately know they belong to Mickey.

Despite Mickey and Minnie Mouse entering the public domain on January 1, 2024, the Walt Disney Company will still have ways to protect their beloved mice.

The company will “retain copyrights in the characters’ more modern versions for a few more years, and it has said that it will continue to defend its trademarks, which could limit what creators are able to do,” per Variety.

“There will be some legitimate public domain uses,” Justin Hughes, a professor who specializes in intellectual property at Loyola Law School, said. “But people will have to be very careful that they don’t trigger a legitimate trademark claim by Disney.”

Regardless, it’s safe to say that Mickey Mouse will remain an icon worldwide for years to come."  -



0 Leave a comment:

Site Archive