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If I were to use famous quotations from history or perhaps put a line from a current song onto a t-shirt...what are the legal ramifcations? Is it an issue of infringement on copyright or can I legally use this? example " Give me liberty or give me Death" I'm not actually going to use this one but it was the first to come to mind....and if it is illegal...what if I twisted it around....give me liberty or give me (insert my own word here) would that count?
 

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It's a bit more complicated than that.

"Expiration

All copyrights and patents have always had a finite term, though the terms for copyrights and patents differ. When terms expire, the work or invention is released into public domain. In most countries, patents expire 20 years after they are filed. A trademark registration may be renewed and remain in force indefinitely provided the trademark is used, but could otherwise become generic.

Copyrights are more complex than patents; generally, in current law they expire in all countries when all of the following conditions are satisfied (except Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, and Samoa):

* The work was created and first published before January 1, 1923, or at least 95 years before January 1 of the current year, whichever is later;
* The last surviving author died at least 70 years before January 1 of the current year;
* No Berne Convention signatory has passed a perpetual copyright on the work; and
* Neither the United States nor the European Union has passed a copyright term extension since these conditions were last updated. (This must be a condition because the exact numbers in the other conditions depend on the state of the law at any given moment.)

These conditions are based on the intersection of United States and European Union copyright law, which most other Berne Convention signatories recognize. Note that copyright term extension under U.S. tradition usually does not restore copyright to public domain works (hence the 1923 date), but European tradition does because the EU harmonization was based on the copyright term in Germany, which had already been extended to life plus 70."

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_Domain
 

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but what about quotes we might see online...with the author's name
or quotes in books or websites...that arent quotes made by the actual web/book author?

example..."Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.” Lance Armstrong. ?? (found on a motivational quote website)
 

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Robin said:
but what about quotes we might see online...with the author's name
or quotes in books or websites...that arent quotes made by the actual web/book author?

example..."Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.” Lance Armstrong. ?? (found on a motivational quote website)
If you see a quote on a website or in a book, either they got permission, or they are using it without permission. It's not going to be something that is copyright-free.
 

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This is interesting. I know Donald Trump has the phrase "You're fired!" copyrighted. But the copyright is only valid with his image attached to it. It was explained to me that a grouping of words such as 'you're fired' aren't applicable to copyright by themselves.

So if this can be extrapolated a simple phrase is not copyrightable unless somethin else is attached with it. I would think a single line out of a book, a poem, a movie or a song wouldn't hold up to copyright laws. The odds that you're the first person to ever put certain words in a certain order would be a big assumption on a single line.

More than one line might start getting into the gray zone or beyond.

Just my thoughts!

Mike
 

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Good question, i'd like to know..

I've seen a lot of tees that have lines from current rap songs and artists, for instance on 'phatpimpclothing.com' Are these licensed shirts? Did they or does one have to get permission from the artist to do this? Its mainly one-liners Im thinking of doing, is that illegal?? I wasnt sure if it was as I've seen several small and underground companies (like the one aforementioned) do this with no copyrigt info visible...

I dont want 50 cent or another extremely rich rapper coming after a piece of my profits! :(
 

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Wouldn’t a cease & desist more than likely come before harsher legal action? That was really rhetorical. I’m just thinking aloud. But I’m paying attention to this thread as I am interested.
 

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mreicher said:
So if this can be extrapolated a simple phrase is not copyrightable unless somethin else is attached with it. I would think a single line out of a book, a poem, a movie or a song wouldn't hold up to copyright laws. The odds that you're the first person to ever put certain words in a certain order would be a big assumption on a single line.
While true sometimes, it isn't ALWAYS true, and it's hard to say for sure either way without contacting a professional. One line may still be considered a copyright violation, especailly if it's obvious that you are using it because of where it's from (and thus, trying to gain because of someone else's work). It probably also depends on how "complicated" or how common the line is, so to seak; obviously 'You're fired' is an everyday phrase, but other lines certainly are not.

mikeinbmore said:
Wouldn’t a cease & desist more than likely come before harsher legal action?
More likely, yes. But certainly not guaranteed.
 

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Hi,

Me, being Swedish and two years of law studies behind me, have always been amazed by the Intellectual Property laws in USA. No offense meant at all, but to me and many others, they seem to be pretty screwed up, regretfully.

Normally, and in most other developed countries around the world, it's perfectly fine to quote other people, living or dead. If the quote derives from a work of art like a book or a song, you need to limit the quote so it's not a complete copy of the work itself. And you need to show who the quote comes from.

If it's a quote from something that's NOT a work of art, e.g. an interview or whatever, the person uttering the words doesn't have any copyright, but the interviewer/publisher, etc. Then, you also need to state who this is.

If the quote is so "public" that it's impossible to pin down a specific publisher and the words aren't coming from any work of art, like a public speech, then there's no copyright at all attached.

That's about all there is to it. In fact, I think that's what it is in USA too, but the laws are so extremely difficult to understand that people tend to think they could be sued for just about everything nowadays.... :(
 

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TiddliBoom.com said:
I think that's what it is in USA too, but the laws are so extremely difficult to understand that people tend to think they could be sued for just about everything nowadays.... :(
People can be sued for just about everything. Sure that doesn't mean they'll lose, but going through the process can be bad enough.
 

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Solmu said:
People can be sued for just about everything. Sure that doesn't mean they'll lose, but going through the process can be bad enough.
Exactly, and that's what's so sad. The mere possibility of being sued and ending up in huge debts makes people scared to death from doing what actually is absolutely OK.

What's more, is that people in countries with more transparent (and better?) IP legislations are beginning to have the same doubts because the read and hear a lot about law suits in USA and think the same rules applies in their own country.

Oh, I could go on for days about this..... :(
 

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I completely agree. In general copyright law is a field desperately in need of reform in my opinion (and that's not likely to happen - in fact trends suggest it's just going to get worse and worse).
 

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Solmu said:
I completely agree. In general copyright law is a field desperately in need of reform in my opinion (and that's not likely to happen - in fact trends suggest it's just going to get worse and worse).
Yes (ahh.... now I get going anyway. Please stop me in case I lose control completely).

The problem, IMHO, is that you (assuming you're an American?) have created a spiral that's spinning faster and faster and more violently for each day, and it's beneficial for whoever holds the biggest wallet. Therefore, and as the people with money also controls the politicians and the law (if I may stretch a bit to be clear), the chances of getting out of it is small.

Because the big corporations can bypass the law, and they're happy to do so. Instead, they have a kind of "parallel" law where money talks - not the law.

Scenario: You use a slogan on a t-shirt. Company X think it's their, or just want to stop you from using it, or simply have a legal department that like to show that they're doing something for their salaries.

They sue you. But as their actual claim is pretty shaky according to the law, or because no one really knows what the laws says about a case like that, they claim a gazillion USD from you, hoping that you'll be so scared that you will do what they say without having the issue tried in a court of law.

Usually, you will back down, they will give you a few $ and you will also sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement. Hence, there will be no precedent, etc.

Summary: They bullied their way, gave the finger to the law (i.e. the American people who stands behind it) and crushed yet another little guy who never did anything wrong at all.

I wish your Supreme Court or Attorney General or whoever can do something about this actually did - tomorrow. Because the future doesn't look very bright as big organizations can claim ownership of just about everything - and I mean EVERYTHING that's not physical. Like the air you breath, your life, your name, etc.... All they have to do is sue you for a few million, and you will hand it over to them.
 

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TiddliBoom.com said:
The problem, IMHO, is that you (assuming you're an American?) have created a spiral that's spinning faster and faster and more violently for each day, and it's beneficial for whoever holds the biggest wallet.
I'm Australian, but I'd consider it a global problem anyway (just worse in some places than others). The average citizen is pretty much just an innocent victim though, so I wouldn't really say "you have created" myself :) I basically agree with your description of events though.

At any rate, we've wandered off the topic a bit here (sorry, my bad).
 

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Solmu said:
I'm Australian, but I'd consider it a global problem anyway (just worse in some places than others). The average citizen is pretty much just an innocent victim though, so I wouldn't really say "you have created" myself :) I basically agree with your description of events though.

At any rate, we've wandered off the topic a bit here (sorry, my bad).
My bad too. You pushed one of my few buttons.
A I should have seen that you're an Aussie.:eek:
 

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Yeah, sorry - copyright is like that for a lot of us around here :) (myself included). Bit of a hot button issue.
 

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How's about, "see you later alligator?" I wasn't going to use the whole thing- just a pic of a croc saying "see you later".... but it's implied.
 

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You might be asking for trouble by taking legal advice on this post. A trademark attorney would be a much better source of information.
 
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