Disney's "Steamboat Willie" Enters the Public Domain, But Mickey Mouse Remains Protected 

, USLAW Magazine, Summer Issue 
June 2024

A pivotal moment occurred in the entertainment industry on January 1, 2024, when Disney's "Steamboat Willie," the animation that first introduced the world to Mickey Mouse, entered the public domain. This transition is due to U.S. copyright laws stipulating that the rights to a character expire 95 years after the original publication of the work. This event not only shifts how one of Disney's earliest and most recognizable works can be used but also signals broader implications for the industry, with other beloved Disney characters like Pluto and Donald Duck potentially following suit in coming years.

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