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The Crimson Connection

The student news site of Cypress Woods High School

The Crimson Connection

The student news site of Cypress Woods High School

The Crimson Connection

Steamboat Willie sets sail to the public domain


Steamboat Willie is a classic animated short film produced by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks that was released Nov. 18, 1928. The film features the iconic character Mickey Mouse as a steamboat captain, and as of Jan. 1, 2024, the fun-loving character has entered the realm of public domain.

Public domain refers to any piece of creative works, like books, music or artwork whose property rights have expired, been forfeited or no longer restricted by copyright. In the public domain, the works are free to use without consequence or permission.

In other words, you can do whatever you want with Steamboat Willie without Disney’s permission and not get sued.

For years, Disney has tried everything In their power to keep its copyright of the iconic character for as long as possible. Originally, the characters copyright was set to expire in 1984, before Disney lobbied the US government to extend the copyright protection. In 1976, many lawmakers agreed to allow Disney to have a longer copyright of the character, but in January, 2024, the copyright expired.
People wasted no time exercising their new permission rights, resulting in the recent announcement for an untitled horror comedy about Steamboat Willie.

Steve LaMorte is set to direct the upcoming movie with a twisted take on the iconic character. This isn’t the only horror movie about the iconic character, as “The Return of Steamboat Willie” looms on the horizon, Written by Joe Smith, that creates another twisted take on the beloved character.

Movies aren’t the only horror projects revolving around the character though. “Captain Willie ‘’ Is a fan made horror game, in which you must survive against a monstrous version of Steamboat Willie.

With the extent that people’s creativity can go, there is no telling what project will be made next about Steamboat Willie.

Despite Steamboat Willie’s turnover to the public, Disney still retains some protections of the Mickey Mouse character, with future interactions of the character following Steamboat Willie being completely protected.


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Connor Bickham, Staff Reporter
Hi, I'm Connor and I’m one of the staff members on the newspaper team. I usually spend most of my free time playing video games with my friends, or binging movies and shows. The reason I joined newspaper is because it will help me develop my skills as a writer, which will help out with the career I want to pursue.

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