As of this month, the Steamboat Willie versions of Disney’s Mickey and Minnie Mouse characters are no longer protected under the U.S. copyright laws. The iconic Disney cartoons have officially entered the public domain nearly one-hundred (100) years after the 1928 release of the short film Steamboat Willie, in which Mickey and Minnie Mouse were introduced for the first time. While Disney’s copyright protection in Steamboat Willie was initially scheduled to expire in 1984, the copyright laws were amended in 1976 and then again in 1998, ultimately extending copyright protection in works of authorship for the life of the author plus seventy (70) years. Disney was reportedly involved in the lobbying efforts that drove those changes, alongside other entertainment companies. As a result, Disney’s copyright protection in Steamboat Willie was extended through 2023. Now, under U.S. law anyone can use only the Steamboat Willie versions of Mickey and Minnie Mouse without committing copyright infringement. Newer versions of the Mickey and Minnie Mouse characters remain protected.