Artists can use Disney’s Mickey and Minnie freely – level 3

08-01-2024 15:00

After 96 years, Mickey and Minnie Mouse have entered the public domain, allowing artists and writers to use these iconic characters without fear of Disney’s legal action.

However, this freedom applies specifically to the early versions of the characters, such as the mischievous, voiceless, black-and-white Mickey from ‘Steamboat Willie’ in 1928. The expiration of copyright protection, often extended by Disney in the past, is seen as a significant development. While ‘Steamboat Willie’ can now be freely utilized, there are legal considerations. Disney still retains copyright over later character iterations, like the Sorcerer Mickey from ‘Fantasia’. Additionally, Disney holds a trademark on Mickey, restricting its use as a logo and corporate mascot.

Despite the newfound freedom, there are limitations to prevent unauthorized use of the character’s branding.

Difficult words: public domain (belonging or being available to the public, not being subject to legal restrictions), utilize (to make practical and effective use of), iteration (version).

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What limitations must be considered to prevent unauthorized use of Mickey and Minnie Mouse's branding, despite their entry into the public domain?


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