According to CNN's article, "An early version of Disney’s Mickey Mouse will enter the public domain on January 1",

There are differences between the 1928 Mickey and the company’s mascot today. The Mickey of “Steamboat Willie” lacks the current Mickey’s gloves and oversized shoes, and his eyes are small black ovals without pupils.

Is it true that the 1928 version of Mickey lacks gloves and shoes? Let's ignore the qualifier of "oversized", and just go with shoes.


1 Answer 1


From Disney, as hosted currently,

Watch Mickey Mouse's classic cartoon debut and see what made Walt's little hero a movie star.

Below which there is a video of the original Steamboat Willie

With the opening slide that looks like this,

Steamboat Willie

So this is what he looked like before the movie started,

Mickey Mouse

And this is him from the last slide "The End".

Mickey at the end

In both of these slides you can see shoes and gloves. Whether that makes it public domain is a legal question (link to Legal StackExchange).

  • 11
    The title card is dated 1929 (MCMXXIX), and the title and end cards are similar to each other in style and noticeably different from the cartoon itself. It's likely that they weren't in the original version from 1928—see also this answer.
    – benrg
    Jan 4 at 4:26
  • 4
    That said, his shoes in the cartoon itself are basically the same as those in the title/end cards, and it appears the black oval is supposed to be his pupil, not his whole eye (frame-step through him opening his eyes at 0:30).
    – benrg
    Jan 4 at 4:29
  • But if you watch the actual cartoon, Mickey doesn't wear gloves.
    – Barmar
    Jan 4 at 15:34
  • 2
    @EvanCarroll the copyright year being written on it is perfectly sufficient evidence. Unless you are claiming that Disney have faked this video clip and changed the year to be one later than it originally said? If Steamboat Willie were not released in 1928 then this question wouldn't be being asked this year.
    – OrangeDog
    Jan 5 at 0:57
  • 1
    @EvanCarroll, I'm pretty sure Disney wouldn't post-date the copyright -- the 1909 act specifies a $100 fine for a false statement of copyright, and one of the later amendments adds specific penalties for false dating (pre-dating is taken at face value, post-dating voids the copyright).
    – Mark
    Jan 5 at 3:55

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