Friday, November 24, 2023

The Mickey Mouse Protection Act

When you hear The Mickey Mouse Protection act, you are probably thinking about how to keep the mouse’s tail out from under the heavy boots of the Florida State Governor. But the Law that is informally called the Mickey Mouse Protection Act of 1995 extended copyright protection for an additional 20 years, giving Disney until November 2024 before the first copyrights on Mickey Mouse begin to roll off copyright protection.  This means that by Christmas of 2024 you can start to borrow and modify aspects of Steamboat Willie’s 1928 movie including the world-famous Mickey Mouse figure. HOWEVER, step softly around the mouse because Disney does have dozens of trademarks, so what comes into public domain on the one four-fingered hand, might still have intellectual property protection on the other. 

The Copyright Term Extension Act of 1995 was sponsored by the late Sonny Bono of Sonny & Cher, so Sonny Bono’s name is part of the act. It is (derisively) called the Mickey Mouse Protection Act because Disney was one of the biggest and most conspicuous beneficiaries. Under the new law, corporations now have 95 years from first publication before their creative works go into the public domain. During that time the copyright owner(s) has exclusive rights to their creative works including sales and royalties. The intellectual property ownership of those rights can be assigned or sold. For an individual author/creator, the copyright lasts for 70 years after death. If multiple creators/authors, the copyright lasts for 70 years after the last author dies. (

The cool thing about copyright (and trademark, for that matter) is that you simply put the cute copyright symbol © on creative works you want to designate as copyrighted and it magically becomes copyrighted. Cool. This is why you would want to indicate “copyright” on promotional materials, your books and your web site content. Books are often “registered” to strengthen copyright protection and to provide documentation if a lawsuit is needed to enforce your copyrights.

What happens when a creative work loses its copyright protection? “After the copyright expires, the creative work falls into the public domain. Anyone can use a work in the public domain without permission or payment to the copyright holder. This includes making copies of the creative work and distributing transformative versions of it.” (

All types of intellectual property protection are discussed in the Patent Primer by Hall & Hinkelman.

Visit the SBP Bookstore:

Hall, E. B. & Hinkelman, R. M. (2017). Perpetual innovation™: Patent Primer 4.0. Patents, the great equalizer of our time. (Also, find on Amazon in e-Book format.)

#Copyright #IntellectualProperty #PerpetualInnovation #IPCommercialization

No comments:

Post a Comment