Universal Joins In, Grabs Mickey Mouse From Public Domain

Universal and Steamboat Willie
Credit: Universal/Disney

With Mickey Mouse now fair game for anyone to use, Universal wasted no time incorporating the beloved character into their brand of irreverent humor.

Mickey Mouse went into the public domain earlier this year, marking a significant milestone in the realm of intellectual property and creative expression. As of January 2024, the iconic character from Disney’s early animations, particularly the beloved Steamboat Willie cartoon, became accessible for anyone without licensing or permission from The Walt Disney Company.

mickey and minnie mouse in 1928

Credit: Walt Disney Animation

With Mickey Mouse heading to the public domain, this opened the floodgates of creativity as artists, filmmakers, and content creators of all kinds eagerly embraced the opportunity to incorporate Mickey Mouse into their works. Mickey Mouse was created by none other than Walt Disney himself.

While some artists have decided to turn Mickey Mouse himself into a horror film and a horror video game, others like Universal have decided to joke around with characters that look like Steamboat Willie.

mickey mouse through the years

Credit: Walt Disney Animation

Minions tweeted that Stuart needed to “take the wheel” as he has features similar to Steamboat Willie. Universal has always been a beacon of humor for fans to enjoy on social media, particularly on X which is formerly known as Twitter.

Stuart take the wheel, see you next year in NOAL #SBLVIII

Steamboat Willie was originally released in 1928 and fans fell in love with this mouse. Fans and artists alike are waiting for Donald Duck, Goofy, and several other characters to fall into the public domain, wondering what rival competitors will feature next.

The excitement surrounding the public domain version of Steamboat Willie Mickey is evident, with more projects likely in the pipeline. It’s important to note that only the Steamboat Willie iteration of Mickey Mouse is available for public use, while all other versions remain the property of The Walt Disney Company.

mickey mouse in 'plane crazy'

Credit: Walt Disney Animation

Many creators will continue to explore the possibilities afforded by Mickey Mouse’s newfound freedom. The legacy of this iconic character is sure to endure for generations to come.

What are your thoughts on Mickey Mouse being in the public domain for all to use?

About Brittni Ward

Brittni is a Disney and Universal fan; one of her favorite things at both parks is collecting popcorn buckets. While at Disney World Resort, Brittni meets the princesses and rides Kilimanjaro Safaris. At Universal, Brittni enjoys the Minions and watching Animal Actors on Location! When not at Disney World Resort or Universal Orlando, Brittni spends time with her family and pets.

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