The Mickey Mouse Copyright Runs Out in 2024 – What That Means for All of Us

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.

7 thoughts

  1. It’s fascinating to watch Disney, a corporation built upon leveraging and reimagining works in the public domain, fight so hard to keep their works out of the public domain. Fair is fair. You’ve enjoyed a century of exclusive profits. Now let other creatives take these characters into other directions, just like you did with Snow White, Cinderella and many others.

  2. 1935? Did you mean 2035? See “As a result, we may have to wait for 1935 until we can begin creating color renderings.”

  3. As you illustrated, this is only open the the version of mickey in plane crazy. They have a pretty strict illustrated timeline of every aspect of that character from year to year that they will use. If someone steps one millimeter out of that and used anything that did exist in his character yet, or. The gloves, they will come down on them. Since those characters were hand drawn and they were not so anal about the characters I,P. Yet, the characters varied slightly tear to year. This is going to be interesting to watch as it unfolds. I’m sure there will be those that step over the line and Disney send the cease and desists. And we know people will push the line, since Winnie the Pooh came into public domain there was allready a horror movie using her name and original
    Image pre disney.

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