What Happens When Disney Doesn’t Own Pluto Anymore?

Lots of discussion has been circulating for the past couple of years about Disney losing the rights to Mickey Mouse.

Mickey at Jollywood Nights

Mickey Mouse started off as Steamboat Willie when he became the first Disney character in 1928. This put him on the path of being the face of Disney for the rest of history. We all love the adorable mouse and the many changes he’s gotten since his debut. In 2024, the copyright to ‘Steamboat Willie’ will be ending, but there’s another character that nobody is talking about whose copyright is also coming to an end.

Before we get too far into this, let’s make sure we know the facts. Yes, the copyright for Mickey Mouse is coming to an end, kind of. But it’s not ALL of Mickey Mouse. The only rights Disney will no longer have ownership of is the original version of Mickey, aka Steamboat Willie.

Steamboat Willie ©Disney

You might notice that Mickey isn’t wearing his signature gloves in this picture (above) as Steamboat Willie. That’s because the original creation of Mickey didn’t have them. That is the version of Mickey that will be entering the public domain in 2024. The current version, that we know today, has had many changes and updates throughout the years, and Disney will continue to own rights to each of those versions of Mickey for years to come.

Another version of Mickey Mouse

That brings us to this mysterious other character who will soon be part of the public domain– Pluto. Yep, Mickey’s pal, Pluto, was first created in 1930 as an unnamed dog, and now Disney will be losing the copyright to him in 2025. However, just like in the case of Mickey, we would assume that Disney actually holds several copyrights for Pluto.

Hiya, pal!

Mickey’s sidekick first aired in 1930 in The Chain Gang as an unnamed character. Then he was in The Picnic as ‘Rover’. And finally, he became Pluto in 1931 in The Moose Hunt. Over the years, you may have noticed changes to the design of Pluto. Copyrights protect original designs and for each change and update to a character, Disney adds a copyright for that design.

So we would expect that, while the unnamed character in The Chain Gang or the 1931 version of Pluto will enter the public domain in 2025, other versions of Pluto will remain under Disney’s control, at least for now.

Pluto in Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway

All-in-all, we don’t have to worry about our beloved characters going anywhere. They will remain safely tucked in a Disney vault and theme parks for years to come. Mickey, Pluto, and the rest of the Sensational Six will continue telling some of our favorite stories.

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The post What Happens When Disney Doesn’t Own Pluto Anymore? first appeared on the disney food blog.