Check the Claim: Is Mickey Mouse starring in horror movies?
SKILL: Check the Claim
SUBJECT(S): Pop Culture
Students will use a keyword search to confirm the claim that an early version of Mickey Mouse is no longer subject to copyright, and is set to be the star of 2 upcoming horror movies.
Copyright is the “right to copy” intellectual property, such as music or artwork. People need permission to use or copy copyrighted pieces of work. Copyright only lasts for a certain period of time, and once the copyright expires, the work enters the ‘public domain,’ meaning that anyone can use or copy the piece without permission.
About the Example
Note: If you can’t access Instagram at your school, you can access the video clip here, hosted on the CTRL-F YouTube channel.
Disney fans beware! This Instagram reel warns us that “suddenly and without warning, there’s at least 2 Mickey Mouse horror films that are coming out this year.”
Is our childhood favourite really getting a twisted makeover? We can use a Google keyword search (“Mickey Mouse horror films”) to check this claim. Top search results include sources like The Guardian, CNN, and the BBC all verifying this story.
Clicking into the CNN article, we learn that the 95-year copyright on Disney’s 1928 film ‘Steamboat Willie’ expired at the beginning of 2024, meaning that a version of Mickey Mouse is now in the public domain for the first time. The article tells us that one of these films “depicts a group of friends who are terrorized by someone in a mask of the smiling rodent at a carnival.”
However, we shouldn’t expect to see newer versions of the beloved mouse with his gloves and oversized shoes starring in slasher flicks any time soon, as Disney intends to “protect our rights in the more modern versions of Mickey Mouse and other works that remain subject to copyright.”
- Show students the reel, and ask them to identify 3 of the claims made in the video.
- Have students check the final claim (“There are at least 2 Mickey Mouse horror films that are coming out this year”) using a keyword search.
- Ask students to select the “news” tab at the top of the search results page to filter for news organizations.
- Have students click on the CNN article and take a few minutes to read it. Guiding questions:
- Is the claim mostly true, mostly false or something else? Explain your reasoning.
- Did you learn any more details about the story that add context to the claim?
- Even when a claim turns out to be true, why is it important to trade up to a higher quality source of information before sharing or repeating the claim?