2024 will specifically pull “Steamboat Willie, “The Barn Dance,” and that original design of Mickey Mouse into the public domain in terms of copyright law.“What Happens When Disney Doesn’t Own Mickey Mouse Anymore?,” Quincy Stanford, DFB
2024 will be a good news / bad news year for The Walt Disney Company and its favorite mouse, Mickey. The copyright that has prevented others from using Mickey Mouse on their products, and media runs out in 2024. That means that you, me, and the rest of the world can begin using the world’s most recognized rodent without getting permission or paying licensing fees.
There are, however, some caveats:
Disney’s trademarks will still be protected as, unlike copyrights, they have no time limit. Therefore, it is possible that you may not be able to use the name Mickey Mouse, but okay to use his image.
Elements of Mickey’s appearance will still be protected. For example, Mickey did not wear those white gloves until 1925. Accordingly you will have to wait a year to include them. It will therefore be important to stay close to the representation of Mickey Mouse as he appeared in 1924.
Another area of caution is around the use of color. The 1924 Mickey Mouse was black and white. He did not appear in color until 1935. As a result, we may have to wait for 2035 until we can begin creating color renderings.
So, starting at the end of 2024, you can be creative with Mickey Mouse. Just be careful to speak with a trademark and copyright expert before you do.