a rickety bridge of impossible crossing

violence against shapes, violence against culture

You know how in geometry books, isosceles triangles have little lines on the legs to show that those sides are equal? I always thought they looked like angry eyebrows, leading to my perception of the isosceles triangle being the angriest of the shapes.


It's probably no coincidence that the angle opposite the base is usually very sharp, to make it as clear as possible that this triangle is not equilateral. That point looks very threatening. You could really fuck up a circle with a vertex like that.


mickey turns 95

2023 is the 100th anniversary of the Walt Disney company; the character of Mickey Mouse was introduced 5 years after Disney Brothers Studio was founded, in 1928. I bet Disney will make a big deal out of their 100th anniversary,1 but I bet the 100th anniversary of Mickey Mouse will pass relatively unmarked. It makes sense for a brand to be 100 years old, but for a character, a work of fiction, something feels off. It doesn't feel right for a 100-year-old character not to be in the public domain. It feels like someone claiming they own the rights to Humpty Dumpty or The Muffin Man. Highlighting the age of the character would probably just call attention to how absurd this all is, how much Disney has overstepped and fucked up our idea of shared culture. At least, that's how I would feel if I were John Q. Disneywalt. There might not be anyone left at the company who's capable of feeling shame.

this shit is weird

Jesse Kirkland writes:

Assuming current copyright laws remain unchanged in 2024, the public will then become free to both create new stories involving the original iteration of Mickey Mouse and change the character design to incorporate original elements. What the public will not be able to do, however, is to create a derivative work that would infringe upon the contemporary rendition of the character design. This complicated paradigm becomes even more fraught when one considers that there are more than just two versions of Mickey Mouse. Disney’s mousy mascot has undergone many permutations over the course of decades, so those seeking to capitalize on Mickey’s first step into the public domain ought to proceed with caution.2

We saw a dynamic similar to this when Winnie-the-Pooh entered the public domain recently; you can create a derivative work as long as it's based on the character's depiction in the original A.A. Milne books, and not the Disney depiction (i.e. "Red Shirt Pooh".) Which is fine, I don't care that you can't put Pooh in a red shirt as long as people are free to make more stories inspired by the 100 acre wood. That's a net good for culture.

What I don't understand is how Disney's trademark will affect Mickey Mouse as a work of fiction. Trademarks don't expire as long as the owner keeps using it. That's why nobody but Unilever, the current owner of the Pond's trademark, is allowed to sell a salve called Pond's even though it first entered the market in 1846. I don't care about this, because brands aren't culture.

But Mickey Mouse is a brand and a character. He's not much of a character, but that doesn't matter. Assuming congress doesn't pass another Mickey Mouse law this year --- which probably isn't a safe assumption, as much as I want to believe this bullshit has to end sometime that's probably hopelessly naive of me --- Mickey Mouse will be in the public domain. But say someone makes a derivative work, hewing as closely as possible to the depiction in Steamboat Willie --- no white gloves, dots for eyes, monochrome, etc --- does it actually mean anything if they can't legally call the character Mickey Mouse? That would violate Disney's trademark. I guess people can make their own Steamboat Willie stories, great, but 20 years from now when "White Glove Mickey" is firmly in the public domain, Disney will still own the trademark. Even assuming no new Mickey Mouse laws, for all intents and purposes, the public domain no longer exists. Trademark rights totally negate any sensible copyright expiration terms, unless I'm severely misunderstanding the law, which is possible.

Anyway, please look forward to my new comic, Steamboat Willie and Isosceles Triangle Blow Up The Three Circles Company coming in 20243 🦝

  1. although they might celebrate it in 2026 to secure Walt's central role in the foundation myth.

  2. In 2024, Mickey Mouse Will Finally Enter the Public Domain — Sort of --- JIPEL Blog (2019)

  3. to be clear: people should make all the illegal Disney fanfic and derivative works they want and put them online pseudonymously, fuck em, they can't stop us. But it's also true that the laws are bad and should be changed.

#currents #media