Mickey Mouse and other characters lose copyright protection


If you’re the creative type and struggling to come up with your next idea, fear not: some important works, including the original version of Mickey Mouse, will enter the public domain on January 1 in the United States.

And if, on the other hand, you prefer your Disney characters to be cute, cuddly, and never change, well… you might want to stop reading.

In 2024, thousands of copyrighted works published in 1928 will enter the public domain, once their 95-year term expires.

This means that those characters and stories can be remade (on page, stage, or screen) without permission. (I finally get to do that Peter Pan musical where a middle-aged Peter laments about unexplained back pain at the end of Act I.)

“It’s important for the preservation of our cultural record, for meaningful access to older works to inspire future creativity,” said Jennifer Jenkins, director of the Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke Law School.

The crème de la crème of this year’s public domain class are Mickey Mouse and, of course, Minnie, or at least the black and white versions of our favorite squeaky rodents that appeared in “Steamboat Willie.” Disney is famous for its litigation and these copyrights only cover the original versions of the character.

The New York Times reached out to some writers, producers and directors to give you a taste of what could be unleashed in this strange new world.

Tigger will also be released on January 1 and could soon reunite with Winnie the Pooh in the reborn character’s next slasher film. Yes, you read that right. In a preview of what might be in store for other 95-year-old icons, the goofy old bear became a sledgehammer-wielding monster in “Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey.” The sequel is scheduled for February.

“The original ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ was fine, but the horror of modern warfare will be much better illustrated with a new crossover version in which Mickey and Tigger trick the Kaiser into getting stuck in a mop bucket. “Zhubin Parang said. , co-executive producer of “The Daily Show.” (“All Quiet on the Western Front,” at least the original German version of the novel, is also entering the public domain, although subsequent translations are not… yet).

Then there is the stage version of JM Barrie’s “Peter Pan”; or the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up,” DH Lawrence’s novel “Lady Chatterley’s Lover,” Virginia Woolf’s “Orlando: A Biography,” Wanda Gág’s picture book “Millions of Cats,” and many more. (For a complete list, see here.)

“It bothers me a lot to see that we’re probably going to get more Peter Pan material now,” said comedy writer and producer Josh Lieb. “No one likes Peter Pan. In fact, I think I speak for all of humanity when I say that we hate Peter Pan and we hate the people who make movies about him.”

Not everyone hates Peter Pan; I’m sorry, Josh. Bob Greenblatt, producer of the Broadway-bound musical “Smash,” called for a new stage adaptation with Daniel Radcliffe as Peter, Lindsay Mendez as Wendy and Jonathan Groff as Captain Hook.

Actor Nik Dodani also had an idea for the film Peter Pan.

“When Wendy meets Peter, a charismatic and seemingly ageless young man, she is drawn into a nightmarish journey of obsession, which reveals the sinister truth behind his eternal youth,” Dodani said. (We couldn’t publish the sinister truth. You’ll have to wait and see the movie.)

If you can! Also released will be musical compositions, such as the original version of “Mack the Knife,” which was written in German for an opera by Bertolt Brecht called “The Threepenny Opera,” and musical recordings, such as “Dippermouth Blues,” with Louis Armstrong. January 1st.

“I often fantasize about the golden age of sampling, when you could seemingly create the greatest riffs of all time with impunity. I’m looking at you, ‘Can I kick it?’” said Ryan Miller, founding member of the band Guster, referring to the A Tribe Called Quest song. “Jan. January 1, also known as Emancipation Day, is now an annual ritual to dig mines with a minimum of guilt. I mean, who doesn’t need a new twist on ‘Yes! We don’t have bananas? No Answer that.” (The recording of “Yes! We Have No Bananas” by Billy Jones will be available.)

It’s nothing to worry about. It’s public domain! Freedom! Steal! Gordon Greenberg, who is directing a Huey Lewis-inspired Broadway musical this spring, said this was an opportunity to “reimagine some classics from new points of view.”

Playwright Lindsey Ferrentino proposed a combination of titles.

“Maybe a production of ‘Threepenny Opera’ with Mackie Messer’s character recast as Mickey Mouse. Very Brechtian,” Ferrentino said. “But don’t ask me to write it.”

The exciting “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” aroused much interest. Neil Meron, producer of the Broadway musical “Some Like It Hot,” suggested an “immersive, gender-fluid” musical adaptation with a score by Sam Smith.

“Late Night With Seth Meyers” writer Karen Chee hosted “Lady Chatterley’s Millions of Cats.” Ah, but let’s develop this! Chee added: “A lonely wife who gives up sexy times to adopt millions of cats.” (Of course.)

From Bob Gale, co-writer of the film and musical version of “Back to the Future”: “Is Mickey Lady Chatterley’s new lover or is he just a voyeur?”

EM Tran, a novelist, was intrigued by the musical “Millions of Cats.”

“Just dozens, or millions, of puppet cats on stage with an old couple singing and dancing,” Tran said. (Kristoffer Diaz, the playwright, agreed, saying that the musical “writes itself.”)

Comedian Gabby Bryan demanded an update to the recording of “The Charleston,” but with Mark Ronson testing James P. Johnson’s version.

“He’s done disco, he’s done dance, he’s done blues, he’s done country, he’s done Ken,” Bryan said, referring to Ronson. “So I challenge you this Mark, if that’s your real name.”

And if that’s still not enough to get you started, just wait. Over the next decade, freedom awaits all of these characters: Popeye; Pluto; Donald Duck; King Kong (the original film version); Superman; Lucas Duck; Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf and others from the Hobbit; James Bond; Bat Man; Captain Marvel.

Let’s get to work, people. And remember: “Freedom is just another word for having nothing to lose.”*

*This song The lyrics are still protected by copyright until 2064.

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