Steamboat Willie Copyright Officially Expiring

Captain Dunsel

Legendary Member
More bad news for Disney as Mickey Mouse (aka Steamboat Willie) now becomes part of the Public Domain in January, 2024….

Just to clarify a little bit...

What is expiring is the copyright on the specific work "Steamboat Willie", which means that it can be remixed, rehashed, copied, distributed in part or in whole, including the specific depiction of Mickey Mouse within that work.

What is remaining indefinitely is the trademark on the character Mickey Mouse, which does not expire with time, and also remaining is the copyright on other works featuring Mickey Mouse and the specific depiction of the character therein.

I see this Steamboat Willie copyright expiration thing come up over and over as some kind of "this will cause Mickey Mouse to enter the public domain" when the truth is that copyright and trademark are very different things, and the expiration of a single work's copyright does not affect the general mark at all. "Mickey Mouse" as a character does not have a copyright, as copyright only extends to specific details of implementation of a work. Individual drawings or animations of Mickey have copyright, but not the character in general.

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