Earlier this year, Disney made headlines by losing the rights to the original iteration of Mickey Mouse, famously known from “Steamboat Willie.” As copyright laws continue to evolve, even the mighty Disney can’t dodge the inevitable. Let’s dive into this unfolding tale.

Disney’s history with copyright is as amusing as it is complex. Over the decades, the entertainment giant has lobbied tirelessly to extend copyright terms, leading to the 95-year term often dubbed the “Mickey Mouse Protection Act.” Despite these efforts, January 1, 2024, marked the end of Disney’s exclusive hold on “Steamboat Willie.” This milestone officially places the first take of Mickey Mouse into the public domain. But, beware! Disney will rigorously protect its modern Mickey designs and other works still under copyright, prompting fans and creators to tread carefully.

The original versions of Minnie Mouse and Clarabelle Cow, another character embraced by Disney fans for their queer representation last year, have also entered the public domain. And the roster of public domain characters will only grow. Disney’s foundational 1920s and 1930s shorts are lined up for expiration, with 18 classic shorts, including “The Barn Dance,” “Plane Crazy,” and “Skeleton Dance,” set to enter the public domain on January 1, 2025. Some of these shorts, previously restored for Disney+, sparked backlash among enthusiasts for perceived loss of original charm.

What does this mean for fans and creators? While the public domain status allows for more creative freedom, Disney’s steadfast protection of newer versions ensures their brand remains intact.

What’s your take on Disney’s classic shorts entering the public domain? Which one is your favorite? Share your thoughts in the comments and don’t forget to share this story with your Disney-loving friends!

For more intriguing updates, check out the original article at Inside the Magic.