One of the most discussed topics in intellectual property law in the early days of 2024 was the fact that the characters Mickey and Minnie have entered into the public domain. However, certain important issues need to be highlighted beyond the headline “Mickey in the Public Domain.”
“The first is that only the versions created in 1928, present in the cartoons Steamboat Willie and Plane Crazy, were released for public use on January 1st, 2024. The other versions, created after 1928, are not in public domain yet”, comments Marcelo Goyanes, partner at the Murta Goyanes Advogados law firm.
“The second issue is that these versions are only available for use in the US. In Brazil, the law that regulates copyright (Law 9.6610/98) is also applied to works from the USA, and there will be no protection over the economic rights after 70 years counted as from the author’s death, stating from January 1st of the subsequent year of the author’s demise”, adds Marcelo Goyanes.
Therefore, as Ub Iwerks, co-creator of the 1928 versions of Mickey and Minnie, passed away after Walt Disney, in 1971, the copyrights of the characters in the mentioned cartoons will only enter the public domain in Brazil as from 2042.
We will return to that subject in a second post!
In the link below, the report from the Center for the Study of the Public Domain, featuring the works in the public domain – in the USA – since January 1, 2024.