The original versions of Mickey and Minnie Mouse are now owned by the American public. The characters, as seen in the animated shorts “Steamboat Willie” and “Plane Crazy,” have now entered the public domain in the United States, along with many other works from 1928.
According to legal experts at Duke University, the copyrights for future versions of the beloved mice are still held by the Walt Disney Company. Additionally, they also have ownership of the trademarks. However, individuals are allowed to replicate, distribute, and create based on the original 1928 portrayals of the duo.
What does the term “public domain” mean and what is its function?
Each year, on the first day of the year, “Public Domain Day” is commemorated to signify the end of copyright protection for older works. The duration and regulations of copyright protections differ among countries.
As stated by Duke Law.
Once a piece of work becomes part of the public domain, it can be freely distributed and modified without needing consent or payment. This could lead to surprising and amusing transformations of well-loved content.
The book character “Winnie-the-Pooh” entered the public domain.
In 2022, a horror movie was released shortly thereafter.
The bear who is obsessed with honey.
According to Jennifer Jenkins, the director of Duke’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain, it is the ability to think outside the box and come up with unique ideas that makes the public domain something worth honoring. She shared this sentiment in a recent post on the center’s website.
Jenkins suggests considering the various forms of entertainment, such as films, cartoons, books, plays, musicals, video games, and songs, that are inspired by Greek mythology or the works of Shakespeare. The freedom to reinterpret these works can lead to a wide range of creative expressions, both serious and lighthearted, while also preserving the legacy of the original artists.
Which other pieces of work are currently available for public use without charge?
Tigger has now joined his friend Pooh Bear in the public domain. The character made his first appearance in the book “The House at Pooh Corner,” which is no longer under copyright as of Monday.
Some other significant pieces that are now free for public use are J. M. Barrie’s play “Peter Pan,” Agatha Christie’s novel “The Mystery of the Blue Train” featuring Hercule Poirot, and Charlie Chaplin’s silent film “The Circus” which he both starred in and directed.
Additionally, two other books being added are the D.H. Lawrence novel “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” and the Virginia Woolf novel “Orlando: A Biography.”
The song “Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall in Love” by Cole Porter is now in the public domain, including both the music and lyrics.
The University of Pennsylvania keeps an online record of U.S. copyright submissions to confirm the availability of materials for public use.
Which significant pieces will no longer be covered by copyright in 2025?
Popeye the Sailor Man enthusiasts will have to be patient for one more year in order to have the chance to remix the iconic spinach-loving seafarer without any restrictions.
In 2025, the works being made public include: René Magritte’s artwork “The Treachery of Images,” the debut Marx Brothers movie, and the initial English interpretation of Erich Maria Remarque’s novel “All Quiet on the Western Front.”