Infringement questions...

CraigPetersonCraigPeterson Posts: 2subscriber
edited October 2007 in Protecting Your Ideas
Hello all,I have recently began making stencils with which I print onto t-shirts and other clothing items.  I like it alot and started considering the possibility of making it more than a hobby.  Here`s my question though:  A lot of my stencils are made from images of actors or other famous people(ie Johnny Cash, Borat, Bruce Lee, Spock, etc).  Is it illegal for me to sell tshirts that have these images on them?  Also, what if I have a small caption under them that is a famous quote of theirs?I guess that`s all I was wondering.  I tried searching the web for answers, but came up pretty empty handed, so maybe someone here can help.  Thanks a lot,Craig

Comments

  • TheJourneyTheJourney Posts: 0subscriber
    How ironic, because I just came to this forum (1st post) looking to ask quite a similar question.  Sorry, no answers from me...just a similar question.Not looking to hi-jack your thread, but I was wondering....if I wanted to produce or publish something...calendars, promotional items, t-shirts, etc...that included "famous quotations", how do I find out if such quotations or famous sayings are in any way copyright protected?Perhaps if someone has an answer for Craig, they might also be able to help me out as well?Thanks,-Steve
  • pepperlegalpepperlegal Posts: 2subscriber
    There are many issues to consider here, primarily the risk of infringing the individual`s publicity rights.  You may want to take a quick peek at http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/copothr.html to learn more about the complexity of the subject.  At the end of the day, it makes sense to have a lawyer experienced in this area assist you.
    pepperlegal10/17/2007 12:06 PM
  • CraigPetersonCraigPeterson Posts: 2subscriber
    Thanks for the link PepperLegal,Well, it sounds as if what I had in mind would not be okay without consent of the people who`s images are being used.  Maybe I should stick to abstract stencils. Craig
  • CraigPetersonCraigPeterson Posts: 2subscriber
    So, after a bit of browsing, I`m still curious.  How come companies like CafePress.com that have members posting thousands of images that I`m sure are not owned by them, have not had problems??Craig
  • MNGrillGuyMNGrillGuy Posts: 2subscriber
    Sometimes it is easier to beg for forgiveness then to ask for permission. 
  • lindalouwholindalouwho Posts: 4subscriber
    To answer your question you cannot use a celeb`s image on a t-shirt, without their permission. Cafepress people get away with it sometimes, but not always. There are numerous requests to have content removed. And for many stock photos you buy they explicitly state no cafe press. Cafepress cannot police everything and users sign agreements stating they won`t do that, but...
     
    You`re best to come up with your own designs that are unique that don`t rely on clearance from people. I had a friend who had invented a backscratcher device and named it something similar to ezreach or something. Another company with a similar name, but nowhere near a similar product sued them for infringement. The lawyer, judge, everyone said they would have prevailed, but the cost to defend themselves was over $100K. They lost that much in development costs, and decided not to go thru and defend themselves.
     
    So you have to be very careful. And if you do set up a business, set up an LLC.
  • entreplanetentreplanet Posts: 3subscriber
    Hello all,I have recently began making stencils with which I print onto t-shirts and other clothing items.  I like it alot and started considering the possibility of making it more than a hobby.  Here`s my question though:  A lot of my stencils are made from images of actors or other famous people(ie Johnny Cash, Borat, Bruce Lee, Spock, etc).  Is it illegal for me to sell tshirts that have these images on them?  Also, what if I have a small caption under them that is a famous quote of theirs?I guess that`s all I was wondering.  I tried searching the web for answers, but came up pretty empty handed, so maybe someone here can help.  Thanks a lot,Craig
    I think your best option is to document it somehow. Even if it`s not trademarked yet, as lonig as you can prove in court that you used it first, that helps a lot.People think you HAVE to trademark something or someone can steal it. Not 100% true. You should trademark eventually, but in the meantime, if you dont want to spend the cash to do it, document it!
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