The first-ever cartoon of Mickey Mouse is finally old enough to age out of U.S. copyright protection. Crypto enthusiasts have, perhaps predictably, marked the occasion by minting a meme coin. 

On Monday, January 1, the Steamboat Willie character—the first Mickey Mouse cartoon to hit screens in 1928—entered the public domain. This means other artists can now use the early cartoon version to create additional works without permission. Within hours, a new token based on the mouse—trading as MICKEY—has been minted. 

The “Mickey Token’s” website reads: “Mickey is and always will be a timeless icon of culture. Meme coins have become a digital reflection of culture. The launch of the Mickey token not only marks his release into public domain but also the beginning of a new adventure into the unknown.”


It added that “the Mickey (MICKEY) meme coin is inspired by the original Mickey Mouse character from the cartoon ‘Steamboat Willie’ (1928).”

Because the token, which runs on the Ethereum blockchain, is so new, its market cap is still a minuscule $6,500. 

Meme coins are digital coins and tokens based on Internet jokes or memes, or culturally important figures. They are typically very volatile and drop in price as quickly as they gain value. 

U.S. copyright laws allow the rights to characters to be held for 95 years. Steamboat Willie was the first time the iconic cartoon mouse appeared in a 1928 American animated short film directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks. 


Despite the 1928 version of Mickey Mouse now entering the public domain, Disney said it would “continue to protect our rights in the more modern versions of Mickey Mouse and other works that remain subject to copyright.”

Edited by Ryan Ozawa.

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