Copyrights on key works that launched intellectual properties into pop culture are expiring in the next few years, including Conan, according to an updated report from License Global, which lists key IPs on which copyrights are expiring in the coming years, as they hit 95 years after initial release.  Some of them are especially important in the world of geek culture.

The copyright on the first Conan stories by Robert E. Howard that incorporated the full concept for the Hyborian Age, on which comics are currently being published (see "New Conan Series Crosses Over"), expires in 2027.

Copyright on the 1933 King Kong film will expire in 2028, and on the Alex Raymond comics featuring Flash Gordon in 2029.  The copyrights on key DC Comics characters will expire in the 2030s, including Superman (2033), Batman (2034), and The Joker (2035).

Copyrights on the first animation featuring key Disney characters are also expiring, including Steamboat Willie (Mickey Mouse) this year, and The Wise Little Hen (Donald Duck) in 2029.  This does not affect the current versions of the characters, which are quite a bit different and are still protected by copyright and trademark.

The first impulse of people interested in creating new works based on the newly public domain properties has been to make adult fare. Jagged Edge has made two Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey films (see "Winnie-the-Pooh Returns for More ‘Blood and Honey’"), which Variety reviewed this year under the headline, "Beneath the Slasher Violence It’s Only Horror Is What It Does to the IP."  And director Steven LaMorte announced plans to develop a horror film based on the Steamboat Willie version of Mickey Mouse (see "’Steamboat Willie’ Goes PD").

Copyrights on some stories featuring an early version of the Conan character have expired in Europe and the U.S.; Ablaze has published The Cimmerian: Queen of Black Coast, an American edition of a bande dessinee series published by Glenat in France that was based on those stories, after the resolution of a dispute (see “Diamond Stops Taking Orders”). Ablaze described the stories as “uncensored.” The expiration of the copyright on the first work with the full Conan concepts in the U.S. will make such material much easier to publish.

Copyrights on the original version of Popeye, by E.C. Segar, and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, the novel by Phillip Francis Nowlan, expired last year.