Mickey and Minnie soon in the public domain, what it means for the creators of the famous Disney mice – Forbes France

Mickey and Minnie should enter the public domain as of January 1ahem January 2024, making it possible to use the original versions of the two Disney mice to create new projects of all kinds.

Article by Mary Whitfill Roeloffs for Forbes USA – translated by Flora Lucas

A silent version of the animated short Steamboat Willie (released in 1928 and directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks) will enter the public domain on 1ahem January 2024 and with it the original versions of Minnie and Mickey Mouse. With the end of the copyright on the original versions of the two Disney mice, cartoonists, filmmakers, authors or anyone else who wishes to use the image of Minnie and Mickey will be able to use the image of Minnie and Mickey, an important step for creators who have long been restricted by Disney often going to court to stopped copyright infringement. Later versions of Mickey and Minnie, who have appeared in many Disney movies and TV shows over the years, are still copyrighted, and Disney has stated, Associated Press that Mickey “will continue to play a leadership role as a global ambassador for the Walt Disney Company.”

Other works entering the public domain in 2024 include Lady Chatterley’s lover by DH Lawrence, Orlando by Virginia Wolf, Blue train by Agatha Christie and Winnie the Pooh : Such a bear house, the Winnie the Pooh book in which Tigger first appeared. In recent years, works such as the original book by Winnie the Pooh, Gatsby the Magnificent, Metropolis, Golden hair (Alfred Hitchcock’s first thriller) and Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Last Adventures of Sherlock Holmes entered the public domain. This gave rise to projects such as Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honeya horror movie with an adorable bear, the sequel of which is in the works, Enola Holmes on Netflix or Pride and Prejudice and Zombiesthe first in a series of works parodying classics by Jane Austen, Ben H. Winters and Cook Coleridge.

Adding zombies seems to be a popular choice

Mickey and Minnie join a fairly long list of characters used by Disney and in the public domain, including Peter Pan, Bambi, The Little Mermaid, Snow White and Cinderella, all of whom have been the subject of classic works by authors such as Brothers. Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen before Disney turned their stories into movies.

Once the copyright expires, the characters are subject to fair use for all creators of new works, be it books, movies or music. As Jennifer Jenkins explained, Duke Center for the Study of the Public Domainhas Variety“Adding zombies seems to be a popular choice.”

Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey, which opened in 1,652 theaters in February, grossed $4.94 million at the worldwide box office. The plot follows a murderous bear and his best friend Piglet as they terrorize the students and Christopher Robin, their original human companion. The film received a 50% from audiences and 3% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.

Mickey and Minnie Mouse were first expected to enter the public domain in 1984, but the Copyright Act of 1976 passed by the United States Congress extended the term of all such copyrights to 75 years, delaying the expiration of the rights Steamboat Willie until 2004. In 1998, Congress passed another law, later called the ” Mickey Mouse Protection Act “, which extended the term of copyright by 20 years, and the 95-year rule still applies today. Officially named ” 1998 Copyright Extension Act ”, this law was defended by Disney and other actors who want to protect their property, especially Motion Picture Association of America and the estate of George Gershwin. Steamboat Willie When released in 1928, it propelled Mickey and Minnie Mouse into popular consciousness. It was one of the first cartoons with synchronized sound and became one of the most popular cartoons of its era, especially revered for its technological advances. According to MoMA, critics considered Mickey seen in Steamboat Willie like a mix of Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks and Fred Astaire.

One of Disney’s copyright lawsuits was against the Air Pirates cartoon group, which published two Mickey comics in the 1970s and was promptly sued by Disney. The comics parodied the original Mickey character, showing him in various situations, including sex and drug use. After several years of litigation, Disney won its case and Dan O’Neill, now 81, agreed never to draw Mickey Mouse again. He said this week Variety that he can still be fined $190,000 if he draws Mickey Mouse again.

For some historical figures, such as Sherlock Holmes, entering the public domain is not enough to avoid all types of prosecution. Netflix was recently sued by the estate of Arthur Conan Doyle over its portrayal of the detective, a character whose copyright expired several years ago when the first Sherlock Holmes books entered the public domain. In a Netflix movie Enola Holmes, released in 2020, the character is portrayed as a warmer, more emotional version compared to the analytical brain portrayed in the novels, and the estate of Arthur Conan Doyle states that these character traits did not appear until later books, which were still in copyright at the time of publication movie. That copyright expired in 2023 and the case was eventually dismissed.

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