Disney to lose rights to Mickey Mouse as the character enters public domain
The mascot of Disney and one of the most recognisable characters in pop culture, Mickey Mouse, will be out of its owner's grasp next year. As per the New York Times, 'Steamboat Willie', the short animated film that introduced the character in 1928 is out of copyright. As per the US copyright law, the rights to characters expire 95 years after publication (for works published or registered before 1978). Thus, Disney, which is also called the House of Mouse due to the character, may lose the rights to the character. But that reportedly includes just the 'Steamboat Willie' version of the character.
The 'Steamboat Willie' Mickey is quite different from the wholesome, anthropomorphic rodent we know him as today. He was more ratlike in his features, and could even be cruel. The more rounded Mickey with a sweet disposition is still sadly under copyright, and Disney is likely going to be extremely unforgiving to those who rip off its mascot in their stories.
The character was co-created by Walt Disney himself and artist Ub Iwerks. The character was meant to be a replacement for Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, an earlier Disney character. It is best known for its trademark appearance featuring red shorts with two white dots, yellow gloves, and big yellow shoes.
Mickey Mouse holds the honour of being the first cartoon character to have their own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In most of the stories, Mickey appears with supporting characters like his girlfriend Minnie Mouse, his pet Pluto, Donald Duck, Goofy, among others.
The 1941 animated short featuring Mickey, titled 'Lend a Paw' won an Academy Award in the Best Animated Short Film category.
Do not expect something like the horror thriller treatment that has been meted out to Winnie the Pooh in the upcoming slasher 'Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey', in which Pooh Bear and his friends become deranged killers. Writer-director Rhys Frake-Wakefield's film is a twisted retelling of the short stories by Milne set in Hundred Acre Wood, where Winnie the Pooh and his friends had many adventures together with their human friend Christopher Robin. Christopher Robin, Pooh, and others did have all those adventures in Robin's childhood, but then the boy grew up and went to college. Pooh, Piglet, and others, meanwhile, went more and more hungry and became feral. Now, they have become so crazy that they terrorise a group of girls residing in a rural cabin.