The public domain is expanding again after 20 years of stagnation

According to this and other sites, properties are starting to enter the Public Domain again after a 20 year pause. The reason being that the engine that powered numerous extensions to copyright is dying out amid the increased realization of the public domain’s importance to artistic innovation.

Properties that can be aired and/or modified for free this year include The Little Rascals and Felix and Cat. Barring any major push for even more extensions, people will finally be able to make use of the original form of Mickey Mouse in 2023 (ie. no white gloves).

In the US at least, the government isn’t even putting copyright up for debate now,but what can now be freely used this year really depends on the country. In all, it’s a good step for creators, at least we don’t yet have to worry about people profiting off our early Blender work yet.

Warner and Disney have deep pockets. if needed, they can brib…lobby everyone necessary and get an infinite IP ownership of their works in 24 hours, maybe even less

That might get struck down in court though, as the US founding fathers inserted a clause into our constitution clearly stating that copyright protection is to only last for a limited period of time.

Now Disney and Warner could make an argument for getting their IP’s trademark protection if they can make the argument of them actively generating revenue for the companies. It’s not the same as copyright protection because you have to pay to have it and renew it.

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Disney and a growing number of corporations are instead arguing – not merely that they have billions of dollars invested in fictional characters which they own, but that these characters would have had “no market value” except for their continued marketing, investments, and intellectual-property development.

They would also argue that “the character of Mickey Mouse” was never created solely by Walter Elias Disney, such that he ever could have (or, ever did) claim “authorship” of it. The commercial exploitation of Mickey Mouse was always conducted by a corporation, which still exists and which still has a multi-billion dollar ongoing stake in it.

No one would have known about Mickey Mouse, nor The Little Rascals, nor Felix the Cat, because it took corporations, and many millions of dollars in cash-in-those-days, to produce any representation of any of those characters which anyone actually saw, and then to bring these properties before the public at their own considerable risk and expense. (Film, celluloid, ink and paint are expensive!)

To now say that “these characters are in the public domain” would be to grant license-to-steal to anyone – not only to undermine these corporate investments, but to free-load(!) off of the fact that existing corporations still continue to pour millions of dollars into them.

Nope – this line of reasoning doesn’t stand a ghost of a chance.