Home > Copyright, Humour > Will Mickey Mouse ever go out of copyright?

Will Mickey Mouse ever go out of copyright?


At the State of the Net West event on the 5th of August, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren led the discussion about Antitrust in the Internet Era.

She made some brief comments at the end of her remarks, where she took on copyright, noting that it is a government granted monopoly that deserves antitrust scrutiny. She said, “Let’s face it, copyright extension these days is ‘limited’ to the life of Mickey Mouse.” And yes, there was sarcasm in her voice over the word “limited.” The guy from Disney shuffled uncomfortably at these remarks. Lofgren went on to say that copyright is being used to put up barriers to competition and innovation and is an issue that antitrust regulators really should be scrutinizing.

Tom Bell took this up on his blog and produced an amusing graph showing the astounding extensions of copyright in the United States and the way in which they track potential expiration dates of the Mickey Mouse cartoon, Steamboat Willie.

I’ve reproduced the graph here:

Tom Bells graph of copyright term extensions

Tom Bell’s graph of copyright term extensions

Mickey had a couple of close shaves in 1976 and 1998. But never fear, with Disney’s takeover of Marvel, Mickey has enlisted the help of the likes of Captain America, Spiderman and the Fantastic Four to help him defeat the evil pirates who want to expand the public domain and free our culture. Mickey even has Jack Sparrow, who I assume must be some sort of pirate double agent, on his side.

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