top of page

The Mouse is Out: Steamboat Willie Enters the Public Domain

February 16, 2024


In January 2024, the copyright on Steamboat Willie, an animated short that was the first story to feature Mickey Mouse, expired. Early versions of Mickey Mouse are now part of the public domain and non-Disney creators can use them in their works.

Creators are now free to copy, share, and build on the Mickey Mouse that appeared in Steamboat Willie. However, Disney maintains its trademark over the character, prohibiting its use in a way that misleads consumers into thinking their work is produced or sponsored by Disney. Further, Disney’s copyright on films created after 1928 (including further iterations of Mickey Mouse) are not impacted by the expiration of the Steamboat Willie copyright.

A day after the Mickey Mouse copyright expired, there was an announcement of a horror-comedy based on the cartoon and several video game releases featuring the popular character.


Authors: PJ Conlon and Yaseen Manan


  • X
  • LinkedIn Icon (Goodmans IP)
  • Goodmans Intellectual Property Web
bottom of page