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Public Domain Day

Every year on Jan. 1, a new batch of copyrighted works and intellectual property enters the public domain. On Monday, the first versions of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, featured in the 1928 short “Steamboat Willie” (watch here), will become available for public use.

The "Steamboat" version of the iconic cartoon couple is nonspeaking and more rat-like. Their entrance into the public domain comes after Disney lobbied to extend US copyright laws several times during Mickey 1.0's life. Under current US law, copyright protection on original works is generally set to expire 70 years after a creator's death or 95 years after publication. See what you can and can't do with "Steamboat" Mickey and Minnie here

In 2024, all copyrighted works from 1928, as well as sound recordings from 1923 (under a 2018 federal law), will be available for public reuse. Among those works include AA Milne's "House at Pooh Corner," which introduced the springy-tailed Tigger to the Hundred Acre Wood, and JM Barrie's "Peter Pan; or the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up." See all works set to enter the public domain in 2024 here.

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