Steamboat Willie is now in the public domain

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It was the animation that launched the House of Mouse.

Steamboat Willie, a 1928 short film featuring early non-speaking versions of Mickey and Minnie, is widely seen as the moment that transformed Disney’s fortunes and made cinema history.

Their images are now available to the public in the US, after Disney’s copyright expired.

It means creatives like cartoonists can now rework and use the earliest versions of Mickey and Minnie.

In fact, anyone can use those versions without permission or cost.

But Disney warned that more modern versions of Mickey are still covered by copyright.

“We will, of course, continue to protect our rights in the more modern versions of Mickey Mouse and other works that remain subject to copyright,” the company said.


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Chuck comes from a lineage of journalism. He has written for some of the webs most popular news sites. He enjoys spending time outdoors, bull riding, and collecting old vinyl records. Roll Tide!