The student news site of Plainfield High School Central Campus

The Fielder

The student news site of Plainfield High School Central Campus

The Fielder

The student news site of Plainfield High School Central Campus

The Fielder


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Expired copyright turns beloved mouse murderous

The black and white image of Steamboat Willie is now part of public domain, meaning it can be used without permission or copyright infringement. Credit to Walt Disney

January 1st, 2024 was an exceptional day even in the sea of New Year’s celebrations, since a very special mouse was freed into the hands of the public. 

       The first day of the year also serves as public domain day in the US, which is the day when a work’s copyright expires 95 years after its original publication or 70 years after the author’s death.   

          The most significant pieces of work to have entered the domain this year were two of the original Mickey Mouse shorts: Steamboat Willie and Plane Crazy.  While dozens of other pieces of film and literature history entered the public domain this year, Steamboat Willie’s entry is especially interesting due to the Walt Disney company’s intense corporate lobbying in years past, which resulted in the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1976 (Otherwise known as the Mickey Mouse Protection Act).

         As soon as Mickey entered the public domain, people did not waste any time when it came to transforming him into a horror villain, similar to last year’s Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey. Three different “Steamboat Willie” horror projects have been announced, including the cleverly named Mickey’s Mouse-Trap which seems to be a generic low-budget slasher flick, an unnamed film helmed by the director of the aforementioned Winnie the pooh cash-grab, and an online multiplier game named Infestation: Origins. So low budget scares seem to be the main direction that people will be taking with the mouse.  

       There doesn’t seem to be much else on the horizon when it comes to Steamboat Willie/Mickey-inspired things that doesn’t involve the beloved mascot cutting through the flesh, which is a real shame; so let’s take a stab at some hypothetical ideas that don’t include stabbing. How about a gritty detective film that takes some inspiration from the film noirs of the 1930s or maybe a Seinfield-Esq sitcom when some of the other main Disney characters such as Donald or Goofy enter the public domain. 

While the Disney company has made great use of public domain stories and characters over the years with creative and wonderful reinventions such as The Little Mermaid or Tarzan, the public’s recent reinterpretations of Mickey are less than magical, to say the least. 

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Dimitrios Maras
Dimitrios Maras, Staff Writer
Hello there! I am a new writer who is excited to contribute to the fielder.

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