Top 10 Things That Will Enter the Public Domain by 2040

The Public Domain is a place where things a free from the evil clutches of copyright. But with 2040 being 20 years away, I think it's time to discuss things that'll enter into the Public Domain by 2040. For something to be on this list, they have to be made earlier than 1945. So if anything was produced before then, it's fair game! Let's go!
The Top Ten
1 Mickey Mouse (2024) Mickey Mouse is a funny animal cartoon character and the official mascot of The Walt Disney Company. He was created by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks at the Walt Disney Studios in 1928. The first cartoon featuring Mickey Mouse was the iconic "Steamboat Willie" released in the year 1928.

Here's something interesting: Disney is one of those companies that treats copyright as a shield for protection. But little do they know that their mascot, Mickey Mouse, will become free to use in 2024. Well, at least the first incarnation made by Disney himself will. That's going to be a serious jab at Disney because once this happens, there's no way of regaining the copyrights for him as no one will own him again. I mean, look, Mickey's cousin Oswald the Lucky Rabbit is set to arrive in 2023, and Disney's doing nothing about it.

2 Bugs Bunny (2034) Bugs Bunny is an animated cartoon character, created by the staff of Leon Schlesinger Productions (later Warner Bros.) He is one of (if not) the most famous cartoon characters, and he is in the show Looney Tunes. His famous quote is "What's up doc?". He is a gray colored bunny with big teeth and big... read more

Taking the silver slot, we have Mickey's mortal rival Bugs Bunny. Bugs Bunny made his first debut in 1938 as the mascot of Warner Bros. But unlike Mickey Mouse, there are already a few shorts starring him in the public domain. I'm pretty sure that, unlike Disney, Warner Bros. won't have a hissy fit when this happens.

The name of the character will still be copyrighted until 2037 (as it was created in 1941).

3 Babar the Elephant (2027)

Babar is another children's book series that will become copyright-free in a few years. Babar made his debut in 1931, exactly three years after Mickey took the spotlight. So, if we do the math, Babar will become free to the public in 2027.

4 Madeline (2035)

Next up on the chopping block, we have Madeline. Unlike the previous two entries, this is actually a children's book revolving around the misadventures of a French girl. The book was first published in 1939 and will become uncopyrighted in 2035. This wasn't the first time an iconic kids' book did this, as Winnie the Pooh entered the public domain just recently (in 2022, actually).

5 The 20th Century Fox Logo (2031) 20th Century Studios is an American film studio which is a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Studios, a division of The Walt Disney Company. The studio is located in Los Angeles and was formerly known as 20th Century Fox before Disney bought Fox on March 20th, 2019.

Now we're on to another thing that was sadly taken away by the clutches of Disney. This logo, specifically its first version from 1935 and its variants used until 1993, will go copyright-free.

I would love to see what they do in the future!

6 Tom and Jerry (2036) Tom and Jerry is an American animated series of comedy short films created in 1940 by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. Best known for its 161 theatrical short films by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the series centers on a rivalry between the title characters Tom, a cat, and Jerry, a mouse. Many shorts also... read more

Now we're on to an iconic show. Tom and Jerry were first introduced to both kids and adults alike in 1940. As such, they'll enter the public domain in 2036.

7 Monopoly (2031)

Have you ever feared going to jail because of Monopoly? Well, once 2031 hits, you won't have to worry about it at all. Like the previously mentioned 20th Century Fox logo, Monopoly was first copyrighted in 1935. Hence, it will break free from copyright in 2031.

8 DuMont Television Network (2038)

Next up on the chopping block, we have this super obscure network that tried to compete with the big boys: ABC, NBC, and CBS (NBC in particular is turning 100 in 2026). The DuMont Network was short-lived, only existing from 1942 until 1956. Most of its affiliates went on to become famous TV networks (one even being KTLA, a station famous for its news). Most of the DuMont Library will be free to use in 2038.

9 King Kong (2029) King Kong is a giant movie monster, resembling a colossal ape, that has appeared in various media since 1933. The character first appeared in the 1933 film King Kong, which received universal acclaim upon its initial release and re-releases.
10 Superman (2034) Superman is a comic character. And probably the first powerful superhero in the fictional world. The character was created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster, high school students living in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1933. It was published by DC comics. The first animated superhero movie was superman... read more

And finally, we have oh, another 2034er I see. Superman made his debut in 1938 (in a comic book) as DC Comics' mascot and the first thing we saw in Action Comics #1. Much like Bugs Bunny, Superman will enter the public domain in 2034.

The Newcomers

? Dumbo (2037)
The Contenders
11 Buck Rogers (2023)
12 The Jazz Singer (2023)

Now we're on to The Jazz Singer, which was the first film to have voice acting! Released by Warner Bros. in 1927, The Jazz Singer will go copyright-free in 2023. Wow, come to think of it, movies have come a long way since this came out in 1927.

13 Gone with the Wind (2035)
14 Oswald the Lucky Rabbit (2023)

Before Mickey Mouse, Oswald was the first character because he was created in 1927.

15 Batman (2035)
16 Modern Times (2032)
17 The Wizard of Oz (2035)
18 Bambi (2022) Bambi is the title character in Felix Salten's 1923 novel Bambi, a Life in the Woods and its sequel Bambi's Children, as well as the Disney animated films
19 Snow White (2033) Snow White is a fictional character from Disney's first ever film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves . She is Disney's first ever Disney Princess and is the only Disney Princess to have her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame .
20 Popeye (2025) Popeye the Sailor is a fictional American cartoon character created by Elzie Crisler Segar. The character first appeared in the daily King Features comic strip Thimble Theatre on January 17, 1929, and Popeye became the strip's title in later years.
21 Winnie the Pooh (2022) Winnie the Pooh is a character based on A. A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh stories. The Disney media franchise commenced in 1966 with the theatrical release of the short Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree.
22 Woody Woodpecker (2035) Woody Woodpecker is an anthropomorphic animated woodpecker, inspired by the acorn woodpecker and also resembling the pileated woodpecker, who appeared in theatrical short films produced by the Walter Lantz animation studio and distributed by Universal Pictures.
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