After 95 years of Disney copyright, Steamboat Willie is now in the public domain

In 1928, Disney’s Steamboat Willie revolutionised cartoons with synchronised sound, introducing Mickey Mouse as an iconic brand figure. Despite Disney’s lobbying, Mickey’s copyright, initially set to expire in 1984, officially ended in January 2024, placing the Steamboat Willie version in the U.S. public domain. Hidden Mickeys adorn Disney parks, showcasing Mickey’s influence. While the U.S. now allows unrestricted use, global copyright laws may vary, keeping Mickey protected in some regions.