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Early Mickey Mouse version becomes top NFT on OpenSea after copyright expires

While the copyright has expired for the older version of the character, Disney reminded the public that modern versions remain unaffected.

An earlier version of Walt Disney Company’s Mickey Mouse mascot has become

the number one trending nonfungible token (NFT) at the OpenSea marketplace after it entered the public domain for the first time.

On Jan. 1, a version of Mickey featured in the 1928 short film “Steamboat Willie” became publicly available after its copyright reached its limit. Steamboat Willie was the first publicly

distributed appearance of Mickey Mouse. After almost a century, Disney’s claim to this version of the character ended because United States law only allows copyright to be held for 95 years.

Following the copyright expiration, three NFT collections related to the old mascot took the top three spots on OpenSea’s 24-hour trending list. The NFT collection entitled

“Steamboat Willie Public Domain 2024” has hit the number one spot after getting around $1.2 million in trading volume. Another collection called “Steamboat Willie” took the number two spot on the list,

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while “Steamboat Willie’s Riverboat” took the third highest ranking.

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Apart from the trending list, the Steamboat Willie Public Domain 2024 collection also took the number six spot on the 24-hour top charts in OpenSea, joining popular

collections like the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) and Pudgy Penguins. The Steamboat Willie collection also came in eighth on the same list.

While the copyright has expired for this version of the popular mascot, Disney reminded the public that modern versions of Mickey will remain unaffected by Steamboat Willie’s expiration.

In a statement to CNN, a Disney spokesperson said that the company will “continue to protect” their rights in the modern versions of Mickey Mouse and other works that remain subject to copyright.

“We will work to safeguard against consumer confusion caused by unauthorized uses of Mickey and our other iconic characters.”

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