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Ok so i designed a t-shirt with a movie character from the 80s on it. The image of the character has been altered to black and white with horizontal lines through it. Would this be copyright infringement or how would i find out if it is?
 

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Hahaha. Oh man, Jon knows me too well.

Anyway, yeah it's infringement. It's actually a trademark issue more than a copyright issue (although depending on the original image, there could be copyright issues too). Characters from movies are the intellectual property of the movie franchise, so it would require license or permission to use the character. It doesn't matter how much it has been altered. Any unauthorized use of IP is infringement and you could be sued. It's best to steer clear of these types of things and consult an attorney if you still have questions or still want to proceed.
 

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What if, I did not obtain the picture from anywhere. But it's an image of a band, for example, the Beatles, which was created from scratch but with their costume on certain concert. Themed with images that I've create myself from their songs. It might not look really like the band itself but it's just my idea of the band.

Which means they are the inspiration for the t-shirt.
 

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What if, I did not obtain the picture from anywhere. But it's an image of a band, for example, the Beatles, which was created from scratch but with their costume on certain concert. Themed with images that I've create myself from their songs. It might not look really like the band itself but it's just my idea of the band.

Which means they are the inspiration for the t-shirt.
Kinda' like a tribute shirt? ......still infringement, if you can tell it's the Beatles, or if looking at it you say "Hey! that's the Beatles" it's gonna' be an infringement on some level.

JMHO
 

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Which means they are the inspiration for the t-shirt.
Band names, logos, song titles, albums, lyrics, etc, are all intellectual property. It's hard to imagine you can create a design inspired by a band that is going to be risk free from legal action. It doesn't matter if the design "was created from scratch" or "might not look really like the band itself."
 

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Lets do some sums:
The cost of a 'cease & desist' letter - zero
You could get a summons, which you can't afford to contest and be hit with their costs plus a fine.
You could win, but not be awarded costs.
Put that against the profit from the shirts and work out what the risk is?
Some downloaders have been fined ridiculous sums, far in excess of any damage, sums that would bankrupt anyone. In the end it's up to you.
Do not accept any advice that it may or may not be legal because they rights holder could sue anyway and you have to go to court. It will use up your time and your money. Even if you win.
The only judgement that matters is the judge's.
 

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If the "man" looks like Billie Joe, changing the color of the tie won't help. It would still violate right of publicity laws. But if the man doesn't look like Billie Joe and you are just reminded of him because of the red tie, then it should be ok. IP issues have a lot of gray area, so just use your discretion. But better safe than sorry.
 

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Well, I can easily type out my picture cause its not done yet. It's a lot of people wearing black shirts, 25 to be precise, and none of them have face. Well, they have, but just a big white patch with no feature at all. XD. Black hair of different styling.

Unfortunately, the one with red tie looks like billie joe, one with spiky hair looks like mike dirnt, one with afro looks like lionel richie, a gayish one looks like ricky martin, the one with beard looks like kirk hammet and alot more. lol. Guitars, drums and mics flying around.

Well, mainly because the title of the tee is World of Rock. Or, it's because I'm listening to the songs from them while I'm designing. Think I'll look for attorney
 

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If the "man" looks like Billie Joe, changing the color of the tie won't help. It would still violate right of publicity laws. But if the man doesn't look like Billie Joe and you are just reminded of him because of the red tie, then it should be ok. IP issues have a lot of gray area, so just use your discretion. But better safe than sorry.
These people are public figures though, I am pretty sure you can print their pictures without a problem. Public figures lose their right to privacy in a way. Otherwise every magazine in the world would have a new lawsuit every week/month. I don't think there is a problem as long as you designed it yourself.

http://www.legal-definitions.com/civil-rights-law/right-to-privacy/public-figures.htm
 

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These people are public figures though, I am pretty sure you can print their pictures without a problem. Public figures lose their right to privacy in a way. Otherwise every magazine in the world would have a new lawsuit every week/month. I don't think there is a problem as long as you designed it yourself.

Right to Privacy - Public Figures
Modern misconception.......these are "private citizens" in the "public limelight" no one loses their right to privacy with fame they only choose not to sue because it would be bad press.

Magazines are different I believe in some cases they would be considered news organizations, and the photographs they publish are owned by the photographer which is either their employee or they paid the photographer for the rights to use the photo.

JMHO
 

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Modern misconception.......these are "private citizens" in the "public limelight" no one loses their right to privacy with fame they only choose not to sue because it would be bad press.

Magazines are different I believe in some cases they would be considered news organizations, and the photographs they publish are owned by the photographer which is either their employee or they paid the photographer for the rights to use the photo.

JMHO
I see many people using the example of Arnold Schwarzenegger Bobbleheads case on this website when it comes to these issues. Schwarzenegger Files Suit Against Bobblehead Maker - NYTimes.com
As noted in the article, as long as there's no demeanor to his image or degradation then there's no problem. It's not a misconception, if you look up some court cases related to this you will see that for the most part the "public figure" ends up losing the case do to freedom of speech and the fact that celebrities lose some privacy rights. In the cases they win, it's usually due to parody, false statements, or any other way of making the celebrity look bad. So as long as the image displayed on the shirt is an original reproduction and doesn't contain anything morally wrong, then there shouldn't be a problem.
You just said it yourself, the photographers take the pictures themselves. Since they are the owner of the picture they can show anyone they'd like. But if the person in the picture is not a celebrity than showing that picture to someone else is illegal.
 

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What about brands like Obey which feature a picture of andrea the giant an old WWF westler as their logo and BAPE which has a logo that looks like an ape from the Planet of the apes movie, would these all be considered copyright infrindgement? An if so how did they get around it?
 

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What about brands like Obey which feature a picture of andrea the giant an old WWF westler as their logo and BAPE which has a logo that looks like an ape from the Planet of the apes movie, would these all be considered copyright infrindgement? An if so how did they get around it?
The wrestler is fine, shouldn't have any problems there. The ape from the movie, that I'm not too sure about because it's a work produced by someone else.
 

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I see many people using the example of Arnold Schwarzenegger Bobbleheads case on this website when it comes to these issues. Schwarzenegger Files Suit Against Bobblehead Maker - NYTimes.com
As noted in the article, as long as there's no demeanor to his image or degradation then there's no problem. It's not a misconception, if you look up some court cases related to this you will see that for the most part the "public figure" ends up losing the case do to freedom of speech and the fact that celebrities lose some privacy rights. In the cases they win, it's usually due to parody, false statements, or any other way of making the celebrity look bad. So as long as the image displayed on the shirt is an original reproduction and doesn't contain anything morally wrong, then there shouldn't be a problem.
You just said it yourself, the photographers take the pictures themselves. Since they are the owner of the picture they can show anyone they'd like. But if the person in the picture is not a celebrity than showing that picture to someone else is illegal.
In the case of Schwarzenegger he's really a cross-over, he went from a famous private citizen to a politician, politicians while they don't give up their right to publicity most choose not to sue because it's bad for the image they are trying to portray to the public.

Printing images on a tee shirt and photography are two totally different subjects, copyright is established when the shutter is snapped for a photographer regardless of subject.....and I have asked the question before, that being if I as a photographer took a picture of someone famous (I own the picture) is it infringement for me to print that picture on a shirt and sell it...the answer was yes.

The bottom line is that anyone can sue anyone at anytime for claimed infringement even for a photo taken of them in a compromising situation, or that is perceived to show them in a bad light.

I would not want the fate of my business resting on a decision of a judge, there are too many other ways to make money that don't involve infringement of IP.

Hope this helps.
 

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These people are public figures though, I am pretty sure you can print their pictures without a problem. Public figures lose their right to privacy in a way.
The issue here is Right of Publicity, which grants every person - famous our not - the exclusive right to profit off their own name and likeness. There is no law that says any public figure loses these rights. US elected officials usually do not pursue legal action in infringement cases because of the damage it can do to their reputation. Celebrities, however, can and will sue when their right of publicity is infringed upon.

It is important to note that you and the article you linked brings up the issue of Right of Privacy, which should not be confused with Right of Publicity in any way. The article even specifies media and publication, which are governed under completely different laws than t-shirts and other articles of clothing and merchandise. So your comments, and that of the article, are in fact correct. But they are applied to forms of communication, not clothing. The law clearly defines these lines.

Otherwise every magazine in the world would have a new lawsuit every week/month. I don't think there is a problem as long as you designed it yourself.
Usage of names, likenesses and photos in magazines are different than usage on clothing. It doesn't matter if you designed it yourself. It is illegal to use anyone's name or likeness on clothing without license or permission.

I see many people using the example of Arnold Schwarzenegger Bobbleheads case on this website when it comes to these issues.
This case is very specific because it combines an elected official and a celebrity in one. Elected officials generally do not pursue action, but because the bobblehead depicted Schwarzenegger from the movie Predator, it took on a new connotation. Regardless of what the article says, this case ultimately settled out of court. So there is no legal precedence to take from it.

It's not a misconception, if you look up some court cases related to this you will see that for the most part the "public figure" ends up losing the case do to freedom of speech and the fact that celebrities lose some privacy rights.
The misconception is that there is a difference between usage in media and usage on clothing. There are plenty of cases of celebrities winning infringement cases when their name and likeness is used on clothing without license or permission.

So as long as the image displayed on the shirt is an original reproduction and doesn't contain anything morally wrong, then there shouldn't be a problem.
This is not correct. Any unauthorized usage in any way is infringement and can get you sued. If a photo is used, then it is an infringement of copyright in addition to right of publicity.

And in regards to Parody or Fair Use...
If someone is sued for infringement, they can go to court and defend themselves on the basis of parody. Maybe they will win, maybe they will lose. Parody is not automatic. The judge will have to decide based on the specifics of the case. But either way, legal fees are expensive. So even if you win the case, you have to pay your attorney.

You just said it yourself, the photographers take the pictures themselves. Since they are the owner of the picture they can show anyone they'd like.
The photographer owns the copyright to the image. Within the laws, they can sell the image to publications. But for someone to take the image and print it on a t-shirt without license or permission is illegal. It would violate the copyright ownership as well as the person in the image's right of publicity.
 

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What about brands like Obey which feature a picture of andrea the giant an old WWF westler as their logo and BAPE which has a logo that looks like an ape from the Planet of the apes movie, would these all be considered copyright infrindgement? An if so how did they get around it?
Technically, Andre the Giant's estate can sue over the usage. Or even the WWE if they hold the merchandising rights or intellectual property of the Andre the Giant franchise.

BAPE is a bit tougher. It can also look like King Kong or Donkey Kong or any other big gorilla. It's generic enough to probably avoid legal action. That doesn't mean someone can't try to sue though.

So it's not so much that either company is getting around anything. Both are at risk to be sued, albeit there are different levels of risk in each instance. Bottom line is, any time you use elements or inspiration that you didn't create 100% yourself, there is risk to be sued for infringement. The best way of getting around legal issues, is to be original.
 

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Just a quick note on OBEY. Shepard Fairy who is the artist behind Obey was sued by assosiated press for his famous "hope" Obama picture that graced the cover of Time magazine. His arquement was that the image was fair use of the photograph that was obviously used as his source material. I am not sure what the outcome is or was but it goes to show that if you want to copy photographs etc.. you are not necessarily safe.
 
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