In ExtraBITS this week, Apple is expanding iOS parental controls in response to investor pressure, and the first onscreen appearance of Mickey Mouse could soon be in the public domain.
Apple Planning More iOS Parental Controls — Responding to concerns from two large shareholders (who hold approximately $2 billion in Apple stock) over the effect mobile devices have on the mental health of children, Apple has announced that it’s planning better parental control features in future versions of iOS. Apple already offers better parental controls than most platforms, and the company said in a statement, “Apple has always looked out for kids, and we work hard to create powerful products that inspire, entertain, and educate children while also helping parents protect them online.” That may not be sufficient for the investors, who also want Apple to create an expert advisory committee, partner with outside researchers, help educate parents about Apple’s tools, and assign a high-level executive to monitor the issue and publish annual progress reports.
Mickey Mouse’s Debut Film Could Become Public Domain in 2024 — Before the 1970s, U.S. copyright terms lasted for only 56 years, but over time Congress has extended that to 95 years — the last extension being in 1998. Those extensions have been pushed primarily by Hollywood, with the joke being that Disney will do whatever it takes to keep “Steamboat Willie” — the first film featuring its signature Mickey Mouse character — from falling into the public domain. According to an article in Ars Technica, it appears that Hollywood is now giving up on further extensions due to greater public awareness of copyright issues. So on 1 January 2019, every work of art published in 1923 will fall into the public domain, something that has been delayed for over 40 years. And unless something changes, “Steamboat Willie” will move into the public domain in 2024, though Disney would still own the trademark to Mickey Mouse.