Sep201725

one of the world’s most recognizable characters Mickey Mouse is also one of the driving forces behind copyright law specifically

how long copyrights can last for almost all pop culture that came before Mickey the yellow kid Huckleberry Finn Charlie Chaplin’s movies are in the public domain but everything after goofy Bugs Bunny the Ninja Turtles Luke Sky walker as long as Mickey stays protected

they are protected as well as long as they exercise their renewal options back when Mickey first appeared in 1928 Steamboat Willie copyright gave creators rights to their work for 28 years along with an option to renew for another 28 after that time past creative works would enter the public domain free for anyone to use based on that law the world’s most famous Mouse should have entered the public domain

in 1984 obviously that never happened in 1976 with eight years left in the Mickey copyright and under significant pressure from Disney Congress passed a new Copyright Act part of the Act established that a fork was not yet in the public domain and still protected under the old law its copyright protection now lasted 75 years instead of 56 under that new law the copyright on Mickey Mouse would now expire in 2003 however in the mid 90s Disney began to heavily lobby Congress to extend the law even more then CEO Michael Eisner was even spotted at the offices of various congressmen he was very much interested in seeing the copyright bill I think we need to do it I agree with him then House Speaker Trent Lott would later say of Eisner in an interview with congressional quarterly and in 1998 with only 5 years left on the rights to Mickey Congress passed and President Clinton signed the copyright term extension act the new Act extended copyrights even more if something was made in 1923 or after and still protected by copyright in 1998 it would not enter the public domain until 2019 or later one law professor we spoke with Chris Bergman and NYU told us that quote traditionally the Walt Disney Company has been very good at convincing Congress to do what they want and quote as recently as 2008 bran experts estimated Mickey’s value to the Walt Disney Company at three billion dollars with only eight years left on Disney’s Mickey rights there’s a good chance a new bill could appear in Congress in the next few years after all it’s in the interest of anyone holding a copyright Warner Brothers Viacom NBC Universal to never let the term on Disney’s Mouse expire as goes Mickey so goes everything else the irony in all this a multitude of Disney’s biggest hits Cinderella Pinocchio Aladdin and many others were all adapted from the public domain you