T-Shirt Forums banner
1 - 20 of 22 Posts

· Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've recently been asked if I could print 1 t shirt and 1 hoodie for a co worker of a friend. He says he attempted to get the shirts done through an online site and the image was turned down because of copyright. The image is a just a "sketch" of a soldier. I'm wondering if I could in any way get in trouble for this. Like I said, it's 1 hoodie and 1 shirt. It's really just a favor for a friend and maybe he'd throw me few bucks for labor. I'm just new in the business and don't want to risk anything if theres any potential for legal issues. Any feedback on this would be great. Thanks :)
 

· Registered
Joined
·
2,007 Posts
Well if it's a copyright issue for one, I would think it's a copyright issue for another. None of us on the forum are legal representatives. If you want true legal advice you should consult an IP attorney. Question you need to ask yourself is "Worst case scenario can I afford to fight a legal battle and am I ok with losing my business and/or losing a ton of money and still remain in business if I lose the case?".
 

· Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the replies guys. I can see where you all are going with this lol. I have no issues turning it down... it is not worth risking the business and never will be. Honestly, I had always thought that the money was the issue, like if I did this shirt for zero dollars and it wasn't for distribution but for personal use, it would be okay (forgive me if i sound like an idiot). Another example would be one of my buddies birthdays is coming up and I considered making him a t shirt with an image of his favorite actor on it... would that also be wrong? Either way i'm not looking for trouble and I do respect others property so this is an easy decision, but it is a little dissappointing if I can't even make some cool stuff for myself. Thanks again.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
239 Posts
Thanks for the replies guys. I can see where you all are going with this lol. I have no issues turning it down... it is not worth risking the business and never will be. Honestly, I had always thought that the money was the issue, like if I did this shirt for zero dollars and it wasn't for distribution but for personal use, it would be okay (forgive me if i sound like an idiot). Another example would be one of my buddies birthdays is coming up and I considered making him a t shirt with an image of his favorite actor on it... would that also be wrong? Either way i'm not looking for trouble and I do respect others property so this is an easy decision, but it is a little dissappointing if I can't even make some cool stuff for myself. Thanks again.
Create the art yourself! You can take a photo of an actor into photoshop and do whatever you want with it as far as I know...
 

· Registered
Joined
·
2,007 Posts
What kind of a friend would ask you to risk your business and bank account as a favor...
I got to thinking about this and the friend may not realize there could be issues. So many people seem think since we are in the printing business we can print anything they want. I had a customer come in a couple months ago and wanted me to put Suburu on a couple shirts. I had to explain that while the chances are slim to none that anyone at Suburu would notice it wasn't a chance I wanted to take.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
7,118 Posts
You can take a photo of an actor into photoshop and do whatever you want with it as far as I know...
Nope. The images are copyrighted. You need permission to use the copyrighted image. And people have rights known as "right of publicity." Their name and likeness is protected from being used on merchandise without permission. Canadian law probably differs in specifics from US law. But privacy and publicity rights do exist. You need permission to use a photo of an actor on t-shirts.

but now I wonder if you'd have to take the pictures yourself.
This would resolve the copyright issue. But not the right of publicity issue. You would still need permission to use the actor's likeness.

how did Warhol get away with it?
In the US, creating and selling original works of art are governed under different laws than producing and selling t-shirts and other merchandise.

I've got a bfa. I think I could argue that...
Your BFA has nothing to do with it. The legal lines get crossed when the art is (re)produced on salable goods.

It's legal to create and sell a painting of an actor. It's illegal to print the same art on a t-shirt and sell it. In the US, these laws are defined as part of The Lanham Act. I don't know Canadian law, but I'd guess there is something similar that protects IP from unauthorized use on merchandise.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I understand all this and i've already turned down the favor for the friend. I get that it's illegal to make money off others property. I'm curious about how much of this law changes when there is no money involved though. Literally printing a shirt for yourself or a friend as a gift of whatever image it might be. What could be the issue with this?
 

· Registered
Joined
·
7,118 Posts
Infringement is defined as the unauthorized "use" of intellectual property, not the unauthorized "sale" of the goods. So just using the trademarked or copyrighted material without permission - even for personal use - is just as illegal as if you sold a million shirts. The laws do not change based on the amount of money involved.

That said, part of the damages collected by the IP owner in court could be based on money made by the infringing party. So if you only used it for personal use, damages could be very little. The IP owner, of course, could claim dilution of the value of their IP. And then it's up to the judge how much of an example they want to make of you.

And keep in mind, if your "personal use" shirt is considered a knockoff instead of infringement, then that's a whole different story. Counterfeiting is a felony and carries fines, seizure of your goods and equipment and potential jail time.

It's a common misconception that printing a one-off is somehow legal. Reality is, it's not. At best, it may be low risk because IP owners may never know about it. But there are no laws that void an IP owners rights to their work simply because you only print one shirt for yourself or a friend.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thanks Tim. That actually makes sense too. I had read that if the image was something that may be on clothing already... you're taking away from their sales (makes sense). Then I thought well if it's something that is most likely not on clothing already... what could be the issue. I never thought of the "dilution of value" that you mention. Maybe the artist put his heart/soul into this artwork and the last thing they want is to see it on a tshirt lol. All is good, at the end of the day i'm glad these laws are in place... these same laws would protect my own work if needed in the future. Not only will I not be making any of these personal shirts... but I feel I can better explain WHY it's wrong to someone even if they only ask for one. Thanks for the feedback. :)
 

· Registered
Joined
·
80 Posts
Can I ask about all these sites that sell shirts which are designed by other people but based on famous films/TV but with there own spin and style done to the image. Is this ok under fair use law? Or is the company ok because the person who done the design would take all the blame?
 
1 - 20 of 22 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top