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The #1 student news site of Yorba Linda High School

The Wrangler

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The Mouse Is Out of the Trap!

As well as being Mickey Mouse’s debut film, Steamboat Willie was also one of the first cartoons to use synchronized sound (TIME).
Forbes
As well as being Mickey Mouse’s debut film, Steamboat Willie was also one of the first cartoons to use synchronized sound (TIME).

Happy Public Domain Day!

 

Though it is not a nationally celebrated holiday, January 1 doesn’t just mark the start of a new year and the day when thousands of copyrighted pieces of media are released for the public to use freely. 

 

When something gets copyrighted, it gives the work of the creator protection from unauthorized use. Once the copyright expires, it becomes public domain, meaning anyone can use the media without worrying about copyright infringement (Investopedia).

 

This year, the freeing of one particular work outshone the rest. After more than 95 years under the protection of Disney, Steamboat Willie has been released for public use in the United States. The iconic character has been making headlines, with many excited about the release of the groundbreaking cartoon. 

 

With the release of such a beloved character also comes restrictions. For example, using the Steamboat Willie characters is illegal to trick consumers into thinking a product or film was endorsed by Disney. There is also a restriction to using Mickey as a company logo due to trademarks placed under the mouse (TODAY). It is also important to remember that only the Steamboat Willie version of the characters like Mickey and Minnie has expired from copyright. A video by Austin McConnell mentions how the reaction to the freeing of Mickey Mouse and such will set the standard for other popular characters who will lose copyright in the coming years. 

 

So far, there has already been activity where the Steamboat Willie version of Mickey has starred in horror media. As soon as the mouse came out of copyright, the trailer for Mickey’s MOUSE TRAP, an upcoming horror movie set to release in 2024, was released to the world. A video game trailer was also released after a Mickey Mouse horror movie. Infestations: Origins is said to be a horror game that combines terror with a sense of nostalgia.

 

Though it might seem odd that creators go straight to creating horror media for characters as recognizable as Mickey Mouse, it is unsurprising. In 2022, Winnie the Pooh was released into the public domain; with this came the release of Winnie-the-Pooh Blood and Honey, a slasher film that was able to create buzz due to the shock value the film was able to produce.

I’m excited to see what people can come up with when having inspiration from Steamboat Willie.

— Megan Wang (10)

Even when such horror pieces are being created, good still comes from releasing characters to the public domain. Creators can give their take on works loved by many and turn them into something of their own. Megan Wang (10) shares, “I’m excited to see what people can come up with when having inspiration from Steamboat Willie.”

 

In previous years, names such as Tarzan, Sherlock Holmes, and Frankenstein’s Monster were liberated from copyright protection. Though these characters didn’t get as much recognition as Steamboat Willie, the following years have big-name characters set to be freed from copyright. Characters like Donald Duck, Superman, Batman, and 1939’s The Wizard of Oz are all set to be released in the next few years (CBS News).  

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About the Contributor
Journey Mou, Photojournalist

Journey Mou is a freshman at Yorba Linda High School. Though not the most outgoing person in the world, she hopes to join at least one club (or something that gets her involved.) When not doing homework, she enjoys playing basketball, listening to music, and attempting to do art. As this is her first experience writing newspaper articles, Journey Mou is eager to see how she grows from writing stories in The Wrangler. With not much in mind about what to do in the future, she hopes to create memories in high school that can be looked back upon when she is older.

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