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The copyright rules get confusing to me when I go to cafepress or other sites and see hundreds of designs using Obama's face, or his logo? Where are they buying these images, or are most being used illegally?

Thanks everyone. The advice and help on this forum is amazing, J
 

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Hi Jeff. From my understanding of the 'likeness' laws, they do not apply in every state in the USA. It is therefore impossible to comment on the legality of these images in that context.

Political campaigns rely on the goodwill of the public. I doubt if any party would risk losing an election by taking action against someone selling a few shirts. All those Obama shirts are free publicity after all.

I don't know how cafepress and others validate if someone has the right to use images. I am assuming that most would just have a disclaimer saying customers are responsible for images they submit??
 

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I had a class about this in law school (this is not advice in any way, just what i think I have learned), that because politicians put themselves in the limelight, that their images are hard to protect, unless you are defaming them or etc...
 

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My partner and I wrote a ton of political slogans using most of the current candidates' names. We were told by our patent and trademark attorney that we had to dump the names because we couldn't make a profit by using their names. I'm just repeating what she told us. I'm as confused as most on this issue. I wonder how others do this. It's everywhere.
Great post.
MJ
 

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You probably would win, but it would have cost many thousands of dollars while to starbucks, the lawyers will have just been earning their salary.

Why does it have to cost thousands of dollars in costs? You can just represent yourself and tell the judge your case.
 

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Why does it have to cost thousands of dollars in costs? You can just represent yourself and tell the judge your case.

Sure you can defend yourself...But never forget that Judges were once lawyers...And going into court without one is an unwritten rule of disrespect of some of the biggest ego's on the planet...

The courtroom is now seen like a business and is run like one...They are all there to get paid one way or another...
 

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Why does it have to cost thousands of dollars in costs? You can just represent yourself and tell the judge your case.
There is more defending yourself than just telling your side of the story. You need to convince the judge that your side is legally correct and you need to be familiar with court procedures otherwise you are wasting people's time trying to learn while defending yourself. There is a reason why its difficult to become a lawyer and why they earn so much money.
 

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I'm just glad I live in a country, where a legal business would be struck off for trying something like that. That type of attempted extortion would be classed as professional misconduct over here.

The process for smaller infringements in my country, is for the matter to be referred to a government official, in a trading standards department. Depending on the situation, they will either give a formal warning, (effectively a cease what you're doing directive), or they'll refer the matter to the crown prosecution service with a view to legal proceedings.
 

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So you get a letter in the mail from a law firm. It says that they have purchased a shirt from you which contains their property. You have 15 days to send $5,000 to make this problem go away or they will be filing in superior court both an infringement and trademark damage case which could give damages of tens of thousands of dollars. Since you have already sold a shirt, do you pay the 5 grand to make it go away or risk going to court and loosing your business? The more you have to loose, the more attractive the settlement.
Whoa.. hold on there. Lawyers don't send this kind of letter. Making that kind of demand is equivalent to blackmail and it's illegal.

The kind of letter someone might expect to receive from a lawyer would be a "cease and desist" (you can look that up on the internet to see examples).

But keep in mind that they don't always have to send you a letter.. they can just take you to court.
 

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But isn't that exactly what the RIAA has been doing? Sending letters to college kids demanding $5,000 or be taken to court?

RIAA Sends Institute 19 Settlement Letters Alleging Infringement - The Tech
That's pretty crazy.. but yes, settlement offers do happen. :) Most of the time it's a lawyer blowing a bunch of hot air and hoping you'll cave so they don't have to do any real work. The best thing to do in that situation is get thee a lawyer so you can get your own hot air machine!
 
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