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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Does anyone know of any websites where you can find out if an image you are going to print is copyrighted for instance characters from a show or something simple...? Any help would be appreciated, thank you.
 

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Characters from a show are not only copyrighted (as part of the intellectual property of the show), they are often licensed for merchandise. You would need permission to use these types of images on t-shirts.

You can check out copyright.gov and search the database to find existing copyrighted material.

But more importantly, you can't just find images online and print them as your own. Artwork and photos are automatically copyrighted when they are in fixed form. So anything you find online is more than likely copyrighted. You would specifically need to find royalty free or public domain images, which is unlikely to contain the type of content that would be popular enough to resell on t-shirts.

You would be better off creating your own original designs.
 

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You can figure anything you didn't create is copyright or trademarked
 
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You can figure anything you didn't create is copyright or trademarked
This is good advice and almost always true.

One exception not yet mentioned is art old enough to have passed out of protection. You probably are not interested in anything that old, and there are many caveats and details to consider even then. Check the gov site listed above for details, and/or Wiki for more insight into the clear-as-mud details of copyright expiration.
 

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Characters from a show are not only copyrighted (as part of the intellectual property of the show), they are often licensed for merchandise. You would need permission to use these types of images on t-shirts.

You can check out copyright.gov and search the database to find existing copyrighted material.

But more importantly, you can't just find images online and print them as your own. Artwork and photos are automatically copyrighted when they are in fixed form. So anything you find online is more than likely copyrighted. You would specifically need to find royalty free or public domain images, which is unlikely to contain the type of content that would be popular enough to resell on t-shirts.

You would be better off creating your own original designs.
Excellent info Tim

Let me add this. BROADEN THE POSSIBILITIES! Keep in mind, when finding art on-line that you would love to put on a shirt and you don't see any examples of that image / brand on a shirt....the copyright owner may also desire to have their designs on that substrate.

Find them, Reach out to them, provide them with a sample, structure a partnership / licensing agreement and move on to the next art or brand that you like that isn't on shirts.

I'll just say this as I close....lots of money to be made doing this!

Never seen ANYONE make a withdrawal without going to the bank first. Don't run away from the money, run towards it.

Hope this helps

Jae
 

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Parody can be a slippery slope. Sure, you can create them and make millions. But the original IP owner can also sue for infringement. There is no distinct line between parody and infringement; it will be up to a judge to decide (if you can afford to take it that far). Bottom line... parody or fair use is a defense to an action; not a license to infringe.
 

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Parody can be a slippery slope. Sure, you can create them and make millions. But the original IP owner can also sue for infringement. There is no distinct line between parody and infringement; it will be up to a judge to decide (if you can afford to take it that far). Bottom line... parody or fair use is a defense to an action; not a license to infringe.
This is true. There was a business that called itself "Mike" that was making "Just Did It" shirts. Needless to say they lost in court.
 

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Excellent info Tim

Let me add this. BROADEN THE POSSIBILITIES! Keep in mind, when finding art on-line that you would love to put on a shirt and you don't see any examples of that image / brand on a shirt....the copyright owner may also desire to have their designs on that substrate.

Find them, Reach out to them, provide them with a sample, structure a partnership / licensing agreement and move on to the next art or brand that you like that isn't on shirts.

I'll just say this as I close....lots of money to be made doing this!

Never seen ANYONE make a withdrawal without going to the bank first. Don't run away from the money, run towards it.

Hope this helps

Jae
I've done this with a few photographs. One of these is my current best seller, so worth the effort.

Online tools like tineye.com can help you find the oldest or largest copy of the image that is online, which often is of help in tracking down the rights holder.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you so much everyone for the iadvice and help... but what about just an image of two characters from the show game of thrones for example, would this automatically be a copyright?
 

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Thank you so much everyone for the iadvice and help... but what about just an image of two characters from the show game of thrones for example, would this automatically be a copyright?
Definitely contact them not to mention contacting their licensees (big opportunity there). Again, don't run away from opportunity and partnerships, run towards them.

We're (limited) licensed to image GOD knows how many brands simply through our partnerships with licensee holders.

Ohhh, so very true about parody being a slippery slope...just giving options. In the end, if a person gets sued, the licensee many times simply wants a share (and a share is normally what they are awarded since it is not their direct license brand; simply a distinctive correlation based upon colors, wording and layout design for the most part) Piggy-backing a brand.

The exceptions are parody with the intent to defame or cause defamation (taking a religious brand and changing it for antisemitic use, etc)

I have a millionaires associate that has done / does parody flipping (the Wierd Al of the brand world I call him). He makes a million or so, gives the licensee a 40 - 60% settlement and he moves on with the rest. Now imagine doing this 40, 50 or more times, with a simplistic,replicatable model! Trust me, it's not something I would do and you better know copyright law in and out (which he and his team do). In the end, that was his inside track. He planned to give the license owners their cut when he started the parody. The funny thing is 80% of the license holders he parodies, sell him a license due to the popularity of his designs.

His whole plan was not to steal from anyone but "Broaden the Scope of their brands social footprint by making people laugh, etc"...that isn't his exact quote but trust me, when he gets approached by the license owner(s) he just opens up his checkbook with his attorney buddies, the case is settled and they move on to the next one. AHHH...the strange and twisted world of making money.
 
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