On January 1, 2024, the copyright of a certain iconic comic book rodent will expire, and you may be among the first to have a sculpture produced without the consent of the company that currently owns it.
MSCHF, the New York art and design collective known for cut of a $ 30,000 Damien Hirst spot and turning Americans’ medical bills into paintings, is currently selling advance tokens for a Mickey Mouse collectible, redeemable when the copyright to Disney’s signature character expires in two and a half years.
But MSCHF does not call their last drop a work of art as Mickey Mouse. In not-so-subtle code, the collective refers to the character as “Famous Mouse” and the company behind him as “Famous Animation Co.” – terms that allow the group to both circumvent copyright law and satire at the same time.
For the MSCHF, this is where the real proposition lies: negotiating the knotty legislation governing popular imagery and intellectual property. And in this arena, Disney is the player to pursue.
“Mickey is the first classic Disney character that’s about to enter the public domain (particularly the Steamboat Willie incarnation), so he’s the closest target available,” said Kevin Wiesner, director of the creation of MSCHF, to Artnet News in an e-mail. “Disney is notoriously contentious, so they’re the perfect target for this kind of copyright breach shenanigans.”
Wiesner pointed out that Disney lobbyists were instrumental in promoting the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, a US law that effectively extended the term of protection for a work of art before entering the public domain. . It’s often referred to as the “Mickey Mouse Protection Act,” because of the company’s efforts to extend the character’s copyright.
“Disney is a true multinational monster, capable of changing national laws to suit the interests of a cartoon mouse,” it reads MSCHF manifesto for the project. “Fair dealing is a dirty joke when one party is a rabid business of $ 120 billion and over. “
The “Famous Mouse Website explains that the future room will be made of cast vinyl and will be five inches high. But Wiesner cautioned against taking those details at face value. “We can’t say details as it would violate Disney’s copyright for us to have ‘started production’ at this point,” he said.
Throughout the site, you will find the phrase “Not affiliated with ‘Disney’ in any way” accompanied by a blinking face.
It makes sense that copyright law is on the minds of MSCHF members. This spring, the collective came under fire for its “Satan Shoes” project, a series of 666 Nike Air Max sneakers modified with drops of human blood in the soles and a bronze pentagram adorning the laces.
It turned out that the shoes offended many: Christians, conservatives and, most notably, Nike herself. The company sued MSCHF for trademark infringement and subsequently obtained a temporary restraining order against the studio by a United States District Court judge. Shortly after the lawsuit was announced in headlines online, the two sides reached an amicable agreement and MSCHF agreed to recall its “Satan Shoes”.
“Nike is a great company and we love them. We are so grateful that they taught us how big companies really work and now we are still following the law, ”Wiesner wrote in his email to Artnet News.
“Copyright is a game of loopholes,” he continued, more seriously. “But everything seems to be going in one direction. “Famous Mouse” looks for loopholes that are less business friendly, instead of more. “
Famous Mouse tokens cost $ 100 each; each comes with a unique digital code for redemption in 2024.
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