Disney is losing its copyright over the original iteration of their prized cartoon character -- plus OG Minnie -- which was first depicted in 1928's "Steamboat Willie" ... directed by none other than Walt himself. Starting Jan. 1 ... they'll be up for grabs to just about anyone.
That was the first time Mickey had ever been onscreen, and that black-and-white form of Mickey served as the archetype template for all the other modern Mickeys we've seen since.
The Mouse House has had a tight grip on the rights to this old Mickey for years now -- and they even lobbied Congress to extend their exclusive hold for just a tad bit longer back in 2004 ... which lawmakers granted at the time. Their time is up now, though, at 95 years.
The original version of Winnie the Pooh (from the storybook) also got released to the public a couple years ago ... and we've seen what's happened to the beloved IP in the aftermath.
There was the famous slasher horror flick, 'Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey,' that got released -- which saw the old bear reimagined as a psycho mass-murdering killer -- and other twisted takes on the story as well ... and something tells us Mickey might be next.