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Discussion Starter #1
Alright, I've been scouring the 'net but I can't find anything on this...

I want to be able to get a screen shot of a particular famous sporting event (i.e. NFL football game.)...and do a one color vector outline of that particular famous event. The event I'm thinking of (without giving it away) is fairly well known, is recognizable by any sports fan and was originally shot by NFL films.

Since I'd be simpy outlining (tracing) this famous screen shot and adding a bit of color and some text, can I use it as a design to sell without infringing on the copyright of the actual video? Does that make sense?

I guess what I'm asking is, can I take a photograph, convert it to a one-color, basic outline and sell it as a design on a shirt? What if I changed it slightly or enough to still get the idea across? Is that infringement?

Technically it'd be original artwork, but it'd convey the idea or instance of that particular event in time.

Thanks for your help in advance!

Brian
 

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Hi, and welcome to the forums!

Why don't you just make a new image from scracth that is the outline of the event (or have someone make it for you).
What you described above is a very gray area, and going to battle with the NFL doesn't sound like much fun!
 

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Hi Brian,

If you are sincere about going the "legal" route, the best way to figure out legality is to 1) Ask the source of the image for permission and 2) talk to a lawyer.

Even if we said "yes, it's fine" or "no, you shouldn't do it", neither is going to hold up for you legally.

In my opinion, the NFL is pretty big on their copyrights, and so I think NFL and NFL Films would have issue with you making a profit off of their broadcast image without their permission (no matter how much you altered it).
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the feedback! Ya know, I'd like to say that this is a great forum! Thanks Rodney...I've been lurking for only a week or two, but have found this to be invaluable to getting started in the biz...

But what I'm talking about precisely is the "Immaculate Reception". If yer a football fan, you'll know exactly what it is...but just in case...

It was when Franco Harris caught a ball inches from the ground after Bradshaw threw a pass off another players helmet and he proceed to score and win the game...

So is the "Immaculate Reception" phrase copyrighted? Can I at least use that, or no?

What if I used the phrase and drew my own version of a football player catching a ball inches from the ground? Any insight to that?

I guess I should talk to a lawyer about that...can anyone point me in the direction to get this answered once and for all?
 

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I'm afraid you're out of luck.

There is a link on the homepage of this site to the USPTO to check trademark's.

I just checked it, and Franco Harris himself owns the trademark.

http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state=pgogo0.6.21

It is registered as "Franco's Immaculate Reception", but I'm pretty sure if you just used "Immaculate Reception" he would have some issues with that!
 

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darwyn said:
Thanks for the feedback! Ya know, I'd like to say that this is a great forum! Thanks Rodney...I've been lurking for only a week or two, but have found this to be invaluable to getting started in the biz...
Glad we could help :)

So is the "Immaculate Reception" phrase copyrighted? Can I at least use that, or no?
I think you mean "trademarked". As a general rule, phrases can't be copyrighted, but in some cases they can be trademarked.

In order to find out if there is a trademark on that phrase, you would need to search the US Trademark Office (see the link in the Resources area in the left hand navigation area of this site).

What if I used the phrase and drew my own version of a football player catching a ball inches from the ground? Any insight to that?
As I said, since we aren't lawyers here, any insight we have won't really be of use to you :)

If that's the type of design you want to sell (where you even have to ask whether or not it violates someones copyright/trademark), then you may want to budget some money for consulting with a lawyer. If the NFL ever does decide to get involved, you would also need a lawyer to defend your rights if they said the image was OK.

I guess I should talk to a lawyer about that...can anyone point me in the direction to get this answered once and for all?
You could look for an Intellectual Property Rights attorney in your area and call them up and ask what they would charge for an initial consultation regarding the use of an image or phrase on merchandise for sale.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Come to think of it...it would seem that it's registered as "Franco's" because he probably couldn't just use the phrase "Immaculate Reception".

But anyway...it seems like a grey area and if I persue it, I'll check with a lawyer.
 

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The fact that he has it trademarked in the "t-shirts for sale" category usually means that you would have a harder time using it because there would be very close similarity with an existing trademark in the same category.

I'm not a lawyer, but I think he would have a good case against you if you tried profiting from a similar phrase on t-shirts for sale.
 

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Exactly...the whole reason for the federal trademark registration system is to eliminate confusion to consumers in the marketplace.

Of course we are not lawyers here, but I would be leary of any lawyer that would tell you that it would be okay with going forward as planned. Especially with Mr. Harris already owning a trademark in the same class of goods and you referring to the exact event that he's registered and trying to profit from it.
 
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