Mickey Mouse in the Public Domain?

A recent article in the Los Angeles Times, reprinted in the Orlando Sentinel, reported on the fact that the copyright on Mickey Mouse might be in doubt. The story by Joseph Menn, called “Disney’s rights to young Mickey Mouse may be wrong” reports that Film credits from the 1920s reveal imprecision in copyright claims that some experts say could invalidate Disney’s long-held copyright.

To us, we think it’s not a big issue. Obviously, copyrighted works will fall into the public domain eventually, and that will (or should) certainly happen to the early Mickey shorts. But the more important reality is that for the films to have any real value, they need to be sold and marketed under the Disney banner. Just say some fellow wanted to copy these old shorts and sell them on DVDs. They would be mere copies, not made from the masters, and would not be able to be sold under the Disney and Mickey Mouse brand, which is what makes them magic.

We are curious what others have to say on this issue.


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