This article identifies reasons behind why the original Mickey Mouse may not be protected by copyright after all. Menn notes that brand experts value Mickey Mouse today at $3 billion and that he has become the ultimate symbol of intellectual property. Menn also notes that film credits from the 1920’s reveal imprecision in copyright claims. Copyright questions apply to an older Mickey that had longer arms, smaller ears and a pointier nose. This entire notion of Mickey Mouse originally not being protected by copyright begins with Gregory Brown as Menn writes. It was Brown who was a former researcher for Disney who took over the Harvey Productions, home to Casper, who found the imprecision. He learned that Harvey failed to renew copyrights and learned that Disney failed to renew copyright claims on the 1931 short “The Mad Doctor” featuring Mickey Mouse. Brown decided to recreate animation cels but Disney sued and lost the case. However, Brown looked at the original “Steamboat Willie” and found that because three companies were listed without a clear copyright next to any of them, this nullified anyone’s claim. Although receiving some help from friends and people interested in the case, Brown’s appeal was dismissed because he missed a filing deadline. Menn quotes Meiseinger, the former general counsel who said, “everything has to fall into the public domain sometime”.
This article is important to my paper because it take a different look at how people try and put Mickey Mouse back into the public domain rather than arguing against the CTEA. One question that arises out of this article, is why is it so important that Mickey Mouse not be protected? This is a question that I raise in my paper and a question that has several answers to it.