Youtube and TikTok content creators know all about copyright issues and how strict studios can be with them, but 2024 marks a huge character entering the public domain in the form of Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse.
As per The New York Times, Steamboat Willie, the first animated short which featured the original Mickey and Minnie Mouse, has now entered public domain—meaning that artists and publishers can now release content based on the character without the permission of the original author or rights holder.
The last big character to enter public domain was Winnie the Pooh, and this was immediately capitalized upon by the slasher movie Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey. We don’t know what kind of insane thing audiences would like to do with Steamboat Willie, but we already have two upcoming horror games that have the character appearing—Infestation 88 and Mouse:
Other pitches for Mickey have been to have him appear as a villain in the next Shrek movie, but we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.
Besides Mickey, other noticeable properties that have entered public domain include Pooh’s friend Tigger. J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan has also entered public domain, so we should expect to see more adaptations of him in the future that aren’t Disney-fied. Other properties joining Mickey in PD include Agatha Christie’s The Mystery of the Blue Train, The Man Who Laughs (1928), and the play The Front Page.
Just for kicks, here’s the original Steamboat Willie uploaded by Disney. Do with it what you please; it’s public domain.