Disney continues to block use of Steamboat Willie version of Mickey Mouse

Disney continues to block use of Steamboat Willie version of Mickey Mouse

YouTube stopped monetizing the video “Steamboat Willie” (“Steamboat Willie”) with Mickey Mouse. This followed Disney’s claim of copyright infringement, although the old version of Mickey Mouse became public domain on January 1.


On Thursday, voice actor and YouTuber Brock Baker uploaded a new video titled Steboat Willie (Brock’s Dub) to his channel, which has more than 1 million subscribers. The video included the entire 1928 short Steamboat Willie, for which Baker provided his own comedic voiceover and sound effects.

However, soon after uploading the clip, YouTube demonetized it. Baker shared a screenshot that shows the video is also blocked for viewing in some territories.

Law professor Jennifer Jenkins of Duke University points out that works that are in the public domain are also considered public property. “Reproducing and adapting the footage in any way is legal,” says Jenkins.

It is likely that Steamboat Willie was blocked due to an automated content identification process. “Videos uploaded to YouTube are scanned against a database of audio and visual content submitted to YouTube by copyright holders,” reads the Content ID policy page. It looks like YouTube and Disney haven’t had time to update their database to remove works that have recently entered the public domain.

This is not the only case of blocking a video with Mickey Mouse. After uploading his copy, blogger Matt Lee was notified that the clip was blocked in some countries. Yes, it was available in Germany, but not opening in Poland. At the same time, it is assumed that the EU will apply the “shorter term rule”, respecting access to the public domain in other countries, if the work was created in those countries.

Meanwhile, on January 1, a trailer for Infestation 88, which uses the image of the Mickey Mouse character from 1928, was already presented.

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