The iconic early version of Mickey Mouse, featured in the 1928 animation “Steamboat Willie,” has surged in popularity on the OpenSea NFT marketplace, following its entry into the public domain.
On the first day of the year, the public gained access to this classic rendition of Mickey Mouse as the copyright protection on “Steamboat Willie,” Mickey’s debut film, expired. This expiration marks the end of Disney’s copyright hold on this version of the character, as U.S. law limits copyright duration to 95 years.
The newfound public domain status of this early Mickey Mouse has led to a significant buzz in the NFT world. Three collections based on this vintage character version dominated OpenSea’s 24-hour trending list. The “Steamboat Willie Public Domain 2024” collection claimed the top spot, garnering approximately $1.2 million in trading volume. Following closely were the “Steamboat Willie” and “Steamboat Willie’s Riverboat” collections, ranking second and third, respectively.
These collections have not only topped the trending list but also made a notable appearance on OpenSea’s 24-hour top charts. “Steamboat Willie Public Domain 2024” ranked sixth, sharing space with well-known collections like Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) and Pudgy Penguins, while the “Steamboat Willie” collection appeared eighth on the same chart.
While this older version of Mickey Mouse has entered the public domain, Disney has been quick to clarify that modern interpretations of the character remain under copyright protection. In response to the development, a Disney spokesperson spoke to CNN, emphasizing the company’s intent to “continue to protect” their rights over the contemporary versions of Mickey Mouse. The spokesperson highlighted Disney’s commitment to preventing consumer confusion and unauthorized use of Mickey Mouse and other trademark Disney characters.