Disney might lose exclusive rights to some of its iconic characters, including Mickey Mouse. Mickey Mouse: No longer under Disney?
Disney's iconic character is slipping out of its hand because of copyright law. According to the law, the rights to a character expire after 95 years after publication for works published or registered before 1978. Disney may lose the license to Mickey Mouse in 2024. The character first appeared in a 1928 film called 'Steamboat Willie'.
“You can use the Mickey Mouse character as it was originally created to create your own Mickey Mouse stories or stories with this character. But if you do so in a way that people will think of Disney – which is kind of likely because they have been investing in this character for so long – then, in theory, Disney could say you violated my trademark,” stated Daniel Mayeda. Mayeda is the associate director at UCLA School of Law's Documentary Film Legal Clinic.
Since Mickey Mouse's first appearance, he has certainly transformed over the years, but it's that first 1928 iteration that will be stripped of its copyright, Mayeda explained.
Disney will still maintain its copyright on any future variations in film or artwork until it reaches the 95-year mark.
“Copyrights are time-limited. Trademarks are not,” Mayeda said.
“So Disney could have a trademark essentially in perpetuity, as long as they keep using various things as they're trademarked, whether they're words, phrases, characters or whatever.” More on the iconic character
Created by Walt Disney and artist Ub Iwerks, Mickey Mouse holds the distinction of being the first cartoon character to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
'Lend a Paw', a 1941 animated short film featuring Mickey won an Academy Award in the Best Animated Short Film category.
Disney Mickey Mouse
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