Mickey Fever to Trustee Twenties

Tanya Chaturvedi | January 29, 2024 | Wealth

January 2024 will be heralded in history as a time when Mickey Mouse entered the public domain. Navigating the US law, the first iteration of Mickey Mouse, popularly known as ‘Steamboat Willie’ is now copyright-free from Disney, as an implication of a 95-year limit set by the government. This expiration, a result of the 1998 amendment in the Parliament by the US Congress caused Disney to lose its intellectual property rights over Mickey’s first conception.

An artist abode, the change in copyright status of the iconic character opens doors for creatives to navigate, explore and extend the boundaries of conceived stories and dispositions. Set in a system, an enigmatic character building over the many years since the first introduction of Mickey Mouse has ensued an etched skeletal chart for its audiences, putting in place Pavlovian conditioning. As the iconic characters become available for access and personal interpretation, we at Svasa Life believe that this availability of previously well-developed persona will open intersections and avenues to reinvent and broaden our understanding of personality systems.

Renditions of Steamboat Willie

L: Walt Disney sketching Mickey the Mouse
R: Vintage Mickey the Mouse stamps

In today’s world with growing acceptance and acknowledgement of fluid identities, this attempted reinvention will mark a better understanding of fluidity, and position the creative assets in the light of relevance. ‘Winnie the Pooh’ went public in 2022, with a unique trajectory- birthing ‘Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey’. Acts of remodelling not only have the potential to speak for social causes but also spark interest in the light of peaking charm to experience break in patterns.

Mickey’s invention as an anthropomorphic mouse by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks in 1928 blazed cinema literacy across continents. Film societies were introduced in the framework of Indian Institutions such as the Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur, as early as 1948, to celebrate the cineplex marvels. Groups of young and impressionable students would sit together and watch parallel narratives of ‘Willie’ come to life, every weekend. This can also be rounded as a commendation to the creators, and the confidence they were entrusted upon by the education and welfare authorities to make their pupils privy to innovations.

L: Winnie The Pooh
R: Winnie The Pooh – Blood and Honey

However, a change in the copyright status of ‘Steamboat Willie’, has not made other recitations of Mickey Mouse available for public use. Disney has intended to protect modern Mickey from conflicting depictions and storytelling under the headline of their interest. A loophole does exist exercising flexibility within the chassis, this is popularly termed an ‘exception for expression’ by Tarun Mishra, where replication validity prevails under educational purposes, satire and parody.

In the coming years, we chart predictions of various colours of Willie coming to light, through an assortment of media like merchandise, theme park and fables. However, comparable acts will be lost on any other iteration of Mickey Mouse, in the near future. Svasa Life will be on the outlook of interesting corrections and adaptations of the same until the copyrights remain suspended.

Words by Tanya Chaturvedi.
Featured image Steamboat Willie.
Image courtesy Disney, Altitude Film Distribution.

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