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Early Version of Disney’s Mickey Mouse Will Soon Be Public Property

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The expiration of the “Steamboat Willie” copyright means that the black-and-white short can be shown without Disney’s permission and even resold by third parties. (There may not be much sales value left, however. Disney posted it for free on YouTube years ago.) It also means that anyone can make use of the film and the original Mickey to further expression — to create new stories and artwork.Winnie the Pooh, another Disney property, offers a window into what could happen.This year, the 1926 children’s book “Winnie-the-Pooh,” by A.A. Milne, came into the public domain. An upstart filmmaker has since made a low-budget, live-action slasher film called “Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey,” in which the pudgy yellow bear turns feral. In one scene, Pooh and his friend Piglet use chloroform to …

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