The entry of “Steamboat Willie,” Disney’s iconic 1928 short film featuring early versions of Mickey Mouse, into the public domain, has sparked a new trend in the OpenSea NFT market. The animated film, credited with transforming Disney’s fortunes and making a big mark in cinema history, is now accessible to the public in the United States after its copyright protection expired. This has led to NFT collections inspired by this landmark animation.
Steamboat Willie’s Public Domain Status Revitalizes NFT Scene
OpenSea has witnessed an increase in popularity for three distinct NFT collections that draw inspiration from “Steamboat Willie.” Among these, “Steamboat Willie Public Domain 2024” has emerged as a frontrunner, achieving a trading volume of 609 ETH ($1.3 million). This collection has also secured a notable position on OpenSea’s 24-hour top charts, ranking alongside well-known collections such as the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) and Pudgy Penguins.
Following closely are the collections “Steamboat Willie” and “Steamboat Willie’s Riverboat,” which have also garnered significant attention and trading activity. These NFTs have become some of the most trending items on OpenSea in the past 24 hours, reflecting a growing interest among collectors and digital art enthusiasts.
Disney Characters in the Public Domain
This development allows creatives, including cartoonists and digital artists, to freely use and reinterpret the original depictions of Mickey and Minnie Mouse. This newfound freedom does not extend to more modern versions of these characters, which remain under Disney’s copyright protection.
Speaking to CNN, Disney conveyed its commitment to preventing consumer confusion from unauthorized usage of Mickey and other iconic characters. This stance shows the company’s dedication to protecting its current intellectual property rights, even as the 1928 version of the character enters the public domain.
The “Steamboat Willie” movement into the public domain and its subsequent influence on the NFT market highlights the ongoing connection between historical works and contemporary digital platforms. As artists explore the possibilities opened up by the public domain status of these early Disney characters, the intersection of traditional cinema history and modern digital expression continues to evolve, shaping the landscape of creative and digital asset markets.
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