Never thought I’d see the day – welcome to the Public Domain, Mickey

I’m a few months late on this as I was still on blogging hiatus when it actually happened. but the earliest version of Mickey Mouse (The one that Disney very likely stole from another artist) is finally in the Public Domain. I guess Disney decided the lobbying dollars would be more valuable somewhere else and they didn’t get Congress to retroactively extend copyright again.

It’s all the rage lately to be a Constitutional Originalist, but what that really means is you do it when convenient. Otherwise the Supreme Court would obviously have to overturn the laws retroactively extending copyright. Copyright was meant to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts” – it literally says that in the Constitution. It was supposed to give people incentive to create things that others would find useful or beautiful. Adding years to an existing copyright can’t do that – the covered work has already been created.

You can argue that extending copyright on future works would promote the progress, but that’s a different argument. It’s still wrong, but that’s an argument for another day.

Extending copyright on existing works is simply a handout to someone who already took your deal.

This is all kind of silly at this point anyway – Mickey Mouse has evolved quite a bit since 1928, with most versions are still protected, AND most of what people wanted to do with the freed Mickey were already permitted under fair use. Still, I’m happy to see this day, as I never thought I would.