Big Board Alerts

January 3, 2024
Steamboat Willie is already making creators money

The earliest iteration of Mickey Mouse, Steamboat Willie, is now in the public domain, and creative people out there haven’t spared a moment in capitalizing on this fact.

Disney has long been at the forefront of copyright and intellectual property law, pushing to maintain its hold on flagship characters since the 1950s. It couldn’t last forever though, and despite the Copyright Term Extension Act being known colloquially as the Mickey Mouse Protection Act, Steamboat Willie and an early version of Minnie Mouse and Peg Leg Pete are now a free-for-all.

The expiration of copyright protections is designed to allow for creative freedom after an artist has benefited from their original works. Artists and creators are inspired by each other and it is in everyone’s interest for works to end up in the public domain. Disney themselves have benefited from this, with adaptations of many classic fairytales. It’s also vital for archivists to be able to save old media without legal worries.

How have people been using Steamboat Willie?

People all over the world have been making excellent use of Steamboat Willie since 1 Jan. Here are some of the best:

Several YouTube channels have uploaded the cartoon in its entirety. One monetized channel is closing in on 1 million views.
A tech writer and game enthusiast has created a Scratch project with the characters, encouraging other budding developers to use the mice in their projects.
A Steamboat Willie horror movie is already in development.
Someone has made an Artificial Intelligence (AI) tool that can generate pictures of the characters.
An annual public domain game jam is rubbing its hands together and cackling.
Everyone from coffee companies to clothing designers is cashing in with Steamboat Willie ads.

The post Steamboat Willie is already making creators money appeared first on ReadWrite.


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