Disney are fearing that they could lose the rights to Mickey Mouse after 95 years.
The iconic mascot for the entertainment company has been synonymous with its growth. He first appeared in the black and white cartoon Steamboat Willie in 1928, the same year he was created.
2024 will mark Mickey Mouse’s 95th anniversary, but, according to US copyright law, the character will have to enter the public domain, meaning Disney will no longer have the rights to him.
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However, despite the rights expiring, there will be exemptions for Disney that will still apply to them and would allow them to still have some control over the character.
In an article for The Guardian, Daniel Mayeda, the associate director of the Documentary Film Legal Clinic at UCLA School of Law explained: “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 copyright.”
While Mickey Mouse will enter the public domain next year, Disney will still obtain the copyright for any future film and artwork that he is involved in until 2024.
Since first appearing, the iconic character has appeared in at least 31 films and over 120 animated shows, which made him arguably the most recognisable fictional character of all time.
He also holds the honour of being the first cartoon to have their own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
This will not be the first time the popular entertainment company has lost one of its original characters to the US copyright law, with Winnie the Pooh entering the public domain earlier this year.
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