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Mickey Mouse, Say Cheese: Your Copyright Validity Is Being Questioned

Mickeymouse_2 It's time for Disney brass to cancel their subscription to the LA Times. The paper has done the unthinkable — dare to challenge the company's copyright proprietorship over Mickey Mouse.

What's the news? Well, there isn't any, really. The paper cites a "little-noticed law review article: a 23-page essay in a 2003 University of Virginia legal journal," the result of a Georgetown University law student's review of an even older claim made by Gregory S. Brown, a former Disney researcher, who was involved in litigation with Disney. Brown wasn't successful in court when he tried to assert that Disney's registration on Mickey Mouse was too ambiguous to be valid.

Nevertheless, the fact that the "Steamboat Willie" cartoon introducing Mickey Mouse has several names listed on its copyright besides Walt Disney continues to intrigue some in the legal scholarship world. Disney won few friends in academia when it aggressively lobbied for a copyright term extension in 1998 and then successfully defended a challenge to the law fought by some of these scholars at the Supreme Court.