You may have seen some news recently that’s left you wondering, “is Winnie-the-Pooh in the public domain?” Whilst the answer is technically yes, there are some things you should know.

Films, books, compositions, and sound recordings from 1926 will become free of copyright this year. The original Winnie-the-Pooh novel by A.A. Milne is one of many creative works to enter into the US public domain in 2022.

What Does This Mean?

It means that the character Winnie-the-Pooh, who first appeared in the eponymous novel, is now available to be adapted and reworked by creators at will. Disney acquired the motion picture rights from the Milne estate in 1961, resulting in the red t-shirt wearing bear we all know and love.

With Disney being such a giant power, you’ll not be surprised to learn that their unique version Winnie-the-Pooh is off limits. Thanks to “The Mickey Mouse Protection Act”, Disney can still sue people for the use of their version of Pooh, or any characters that Milne did not originally create.

Any fresh adaptations of the Hundred Acre Wood resident will need to be based on Milne’s original character, and not Disney’s or anyone else’s versions. This is because those versions remain under copyright. It’s also worth noting that Pooh’s stripy pal, Tigger did not appear in Milne’s stories until 1928.

If you intend on using Winnie-the-Pooh for any creative projects, be it artwork or otherwise, make sure there’s no red shirt in sight.

So, if you were planning on creating your own Winnie-the-Pooh based story, now is definitely your chance. The original character and story being in the public domain means you are free to take Pooh in any direction you please. It could be an interesting ride for the honey obsessed bear, and it’ll be interesting to see what forms he takes in the future.

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