Mickey Mouse copyright is about to expire, again. Will it be the last time?
June, 11; 2017. By
There are many opinions and many articles have been written about the expiration of the copyright of the best worldwide known mouse (most probably): Mickey Mouse, created by the hand of movie producer and businessman Walt Disney, somewhere around the 1920s. So after modifying the copyright law in the US by two times already (as far as we know), it might come the year where the copyright law could be modified again -1923- to avoid the little mouse entering the public domain (or at least partially, because the company has got many trademarks around the mouse and its condition of well-known brand could widely benefit the source company).

We could start talking about this from many different points of view, but we must say in the beginning that this situation is already causing a historical anomaly. A tiny little mouse is forcing the copyright law to stay valid almost forever. This is due mainly because Walt Disney was a businessman too, and that there's so little to be made in the US without money. Therefore he tied his artistic creations too much, or that's what we think at least, to the economic matter. That's why he created a company with his name, that now is listed on the most prestigious trade index in the world, with a solid trajectory; these weeks is down a bit but perhaps this is not important on the long run. To be clear, Mickey Mouse is a money making machine but, is that what we are expecting from a work of art?

Let's turn a bit the kaleidoscope again and take it from a European point of view. Europe has been more than 20 centuries creating some of the most known intellectual properties like the works of Michelangelo, or Don Quijote by Cervantes, without taking into account the work by Shakespeare and many more. We should ask ourselves how much money did Michelangelo earn for creating his sculptures, or how did Shakespeare spend the money he earned with his travelling theater company or the little money that collected old Cervantes with his work Don Quijote, a widely popular character in his time.

From a European point of view the thing is crystal clear: Copyright should end by 2023 by many reasons, commented above, but also because Walt Disney himself benefited from expiration of copyright of many of the intellectual properties he used in his movies, some of the most relevant having been taken from the works of Hans Christian Andersen.

That's why The Disney Company, which could be seen as a "foundation with steroids" from a European point of view, is lobbying to change the copyright law in the US, but how about changing the copyright law in Europe and the rest of the world? The world is so big and we don't know if they will have enough money to do so... Anyway, in terms of copyright expiry in Europe, the mouse would stand tied to the Disney Company until 2036 (70 years after the death of Walt Disney, more or less). Perhaps some animated productions could be in public domain before, but just the productions, not the drawings and the characters, that would expire by ~2036.

If the copyright is not extended but the creation is tied with brands, at least in Spain those brands would be weak, as it happens with a Spanish brand for instance called Don Quijote.

To sum up, this is something that is confronting the idea of capitalist American point of view against the more artistic European point of view. The mouse is rejecting entering eternity, looks like if he wanted to stay alive all the time, as if Walt Disney had a fear to be forgotten as an artist (I believe many important artists feel the same).

From the point of view of this publication and its creative group, the fact that the copyright may be extended or not is irrelevant, as we have secured our creation pipeline because we just need some common tools today, a couple of digital brushes and a bit more. But from a historical point of view, and trying to be as factual as we can, we would see the mouse entering the public domain as a good thing, that tiny little rodent with a fear of stepping into eternity.
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