I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.
This Friday we will celebrate the 88th birthday of the Head Cheese himself, Mickey Mouse, which coincides with the release of the movie Steamboat Willie in 1928. However, some contend that Mickey’s actual birthday is on September 18, when Walt Disney received the copyright for our favorite member of the club.
The biggest surprise most people don’t know about Mickey Mouse is that he has changed copyright law over the years.
When Walt Disney first received the copyright for Mickey Mouse they had 28 years protection with the ability to apply for another 28 year term IF the creator was alive at the end of the first 28 years. Therefore, the copyright should have expired in 1984.
In the late 70’s, seeing the impending loss of their copyright, Disney began to lobby Congress for additional protection. In 1976, it was changed to 75 years. This would take it from expiring in 1984 to 2003.
But fear not, Disney attorneys weren’t done.
In 1998, the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act became legislation. As it applies to corporations, copyrights would be extended 95 years from the year of first publication. This takes us now. Currently, the copyright for Mickey Mouse will expire in 2023.
You can be sure in the next few years Disney attorneys will work their magic once again. I have no doubt Mickey will remain the iconic symbol of Disney for a long time to come.
To celebrate his birthday, here’s some more fun facts about Mickey Mouse:
- Steamboat Willie was NOT the first cartoon Mickey Mouse appeared in. It was actually in Plane Crazy and The Gallopin Gaucho which were released later.
- Mickey Mouse has appeared in over 130 films.
- The reason Mickey Mouse was created is because Walt Disney lost the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit to Universal Studios.
- The first words Mickey ever spoke were “Hot Dogs”!
- Originally Walt wanted Mickey’s name to be Mortimer but his wife Lillian was not a fan of the name so it was changed to Mickey
- 10 Mickey cartoons have been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film
- Mickey was the first cartoon character to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (1978).
- In creating the character of Mickey Mouse artists presented drafts of various animals such as dogs, cats, cows, horses and frogs. Some of these drafts actually ended up being animated characters in other Disney projects such as Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar.
- During World War II, when the Allied forces invaded Normandy on D-Day, “Mickey Mouse” was the secret password between intelligence officers.
- In the 2008 county elections in Sheboygan, Wisconsin Mickey Mouse received four votes for coroner, two for state rep, and one each for governor, clerk of court and county clerk. In the 2008 Presidential election Mickey receive 11 votes nationally beating out Joe the Plumber, Jesus Christ and Santa Claus.
- One of the most iconic Mickey Mouse products in the Mickey Mouse watch. In 1957, the company presented Walt Disney with the 25 millionth watch.
- Mickey Mouse received his own entry in the Encyclopedia Britannica in 1934.
- Mickey has two nephews, Morty and Ferdy, and a sister, Amelia Fieldmouse.
- By only having four fingers, it has saved Walt Disney Studios millions of dollars. 6 ½ minutes of film required 45,000 drawings so imagine the time savings in not having to draw four extra fingers (two on each hand) in each drawing.
Additional information: http://artlawjournal.com/mickey-mouse-keeps-changing-copyright-law/
Sue Nowicki is an alumnae of the 2014/15 Disney Parks Moms Panel. She splits her time between planning her next Walt Disney World vacation and being team mom to ten high-energy volleyball players where she fills the roles of secretary, navigator, head cheerleader, treasurer, athletic trainer and team psychologist. You can follow her on Twitter @JazzinDisneyMom.