Mickey Mouse made his public debut on this day in history, November 18, 1928 in "Steamboat Willie." That makes him a 74 year old mouse- older than Mr. Jingles, the unnaturally long lived mouse from The Green Mile.
The idea of copyright really is not the simple fact of nature that we often take it for these days. Ownership of an idea is an odd abstraction when you pull back from the idea mentally. An idea isn't, after all, a THING, like a blanket or a car. Ownership of ideas was not common before the US came along.
America's founding fathers wanted to incentivize writing and composing. They also recognized that granting of exclusivity in ideas was a great limitation on the traditional freedoms of other people using pieces of things in the public domain as building blocks for new ideas and variations. Here then is the entirety of authorization for congress to create copyright law in the US Constitution (from Article I) "To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries"
In practice, until the last century "limited times" meant an exclusive copyright for 14 years, which could be renewed for another 14, giving a total maximum exclusive window of 28 years. Hey, if 28 years of exclusive rights isn't enough incentive for you to write a book or a song, screw it. You can go make your living driving a truck.
Of course, copyright law has been hijacked and turned into pure doubloon looting and pillaging piracy by the entertainment industry in recent years. These SOBs don't plan on ever letting anything slide into the public domain. If Hollywood and their bought and paid for congressmen had their way, every local playhouse in the world would be paying some great-great-great-great-monkeys-grand-nephew of Shakespeare every time they perform Hamlet.
Let see, then. Twenty eight years from 1928 would be 1956. That's when Mickey should have become a public domain figure. That's putting the Disney corporation now every bit of 44 years into corporate welfare with this government enforced monopoly.
It's long past time to FREE THE MOUSE!