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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone,

I've been asked to design a t-shirt for an ice cream place. They want to sell the t-shirts and my issue is with copyrighted material. They want it to say "Storm Scoopers" and have and image of stormtroopers with ice cream scoops. I told them this would be impossible but I thought I should ask some experts (you). Is there anything I can change to keep the idea but not get screwed?

Thanks!
 

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A dangerous one.
The only way I can think of, would be to do the storm troopers completely differently from the Star Wars ones...............even then.....it just depends on how picky they'd be.....try and sell them on the idea of making the "Storm Scoopers" be animated ice cream scoops or something.
then tell them that copyright issues cost big big $$$$$

Good luck to you.
 

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Several years ago there was a woman named Samantha Buck who opened a coffee shop and named it after herself. She called it Sambucks Coffee. A year later, Starbucks opened a shop a few miles away. Starbucks sued her and after a three year battle, Samantha was found to have willfully infringed on Starbuck's registered intellectual property.

So I would say this ice cream venture is very risky. Since it's not even your mess, it's probably best to steer clear. Let them consult an attorney first and figure out the legalities. If they insist on using the name and you are tempted to do the artwork, you should consult an attorney as well to understand what, if any, risks you are taking.
 

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Wouldn't touch any thing that Lucas did with a ten foot pole. Held by someone else. He is just that serious about his properties. He actually owns all the licenses from the Star Wars movies so any infringement actually come out of his pockets. Remember Motorola had to licence the word droid to use in their phone, and that is like a minor background thing in the movie.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks everyone, that was very helpful. I live ina small town in Canada and the ice cream place is just a summer thing so I'm almost positive nothing would happen. All the same, I advised them to keep the stormscoopers shirt for the employees. They wouldn't be selling them and there would only be like 5.

That should be fine right? Sorry for my ignorance, I've never had to deal with copyright things.
 

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I live in a small town in Canada and the ice cream place is just a summer thing so I'm almost positive nothing would happen.
The act of infringement is all that matters. Where the shop is located and what season they are open is irrelevant.

I know it seems unlikely that a tycoon like George Lucas would find out or care, but it does happen. He is notorious for aggressively protecting his intellectual property. Do some google searches, you will find real stories of infringement cases. Here's one: Don’t Mess with George Lucas’ Storm Troopers : EveryJoe - Sports News – Tech Reviews – Entertainment – Life Tips for EveryJoe

Being "almost positive nothing would happen" without consulting an attorney is being extremely unprofessional and naive. These are the exact situations IP owners want to target, and quite frankly, you'd be getting what you deserve.

All the same, I advised them to keep the stormscoopers shirt for the employees. They wouldn't be selling them and there would only be like 5.
The shirts are going to be the least of their problems. Just opening and operating the store can get them sued for infringement. (EDIT: I wrote this thinking the shop name was "Storm Scoopers." After re-reading the thread, I see that is not necessarily the case. If only the t-shirt design is based on the Storm Troopers name and likeness, then that is the only infringement issue, not the operation of the shop.)

But as far as the shirts are concerned, just reproducing trademarked or copyrighted artwork is infringement. Whether it's 1 or 1000 doesn't matter, whether they are being sold or given away doesn't matter.

At this point, they may as well sell as many as they can to pay for the impending legal fees.

That should be fine right? Sorry for my ignorance, I've never had to deal with copyright things.
Well, you have now admitted on a free public forum that you are aware of IP issues but think it would be fine to proceed anyway. Personally, I don't think it will be fine at all. George Lucas pays attorneys a lot of money to protect his IP. Infringing on the Stormtroopers name and likeness is a risky business. I think they will be operating on borrowed time until the cease and desist letter arrives.

I apologize for sounding harsh or negative, but there is a long long long history of infringement cases involving Lucas' properties. It's just not a good idea to go this route. Many people have lost a lot of investment due to IP infringement, and in many cases, they didn't even know they were doing it and were not doing it intentionally. Do yourself a favor and consult an attorney before doing anything that can get yourself involved in a lawsuit.
 

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Kimura has it dead on on this one. Stuff like this is pretty sketchy to work with, and without leagal papers from Lucas Arts saying sure go for it , I would slowly back away.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I have a shirt that I drew a bob omb on with sharpie. Basically what you're telling me kimura is that was a big mistake. No matter who it's for or how it is done, if a copyrighted character is put on an item of clothing you're in trouble? I'm definately ending my freelance fan art. I hope I can still make enough money to go to post secondary.
 

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Correct. Any unauthorized reproduction of intellectual property is an infringement which can potentially get you sued.

From a practical standpoint, yes, there are varying levels of risk. For instance, if you drive 55mph in a 50mph zone, you are far less likely to get a speeding ticket than if you drive 75mph in a 50mph zone. But it would be foolish to believe that driving 55 in a 50 is legal simply because fewer tickets are handed out for it. Bottom line is, it's illegal to drive 55 in a 50 and you can get a ticket for it at any time if you continue to do it.

So to transfer the analogy, you drawing Bob-omb on a t-shirt with a sharpie is like driving 55 in a 50. Unlikely you will get sued, but it's still possible because it is an infringement on Nintendo's IP. But designing a t-shirt based on George Lucas' IP would be like driving 120 in a 50. Maybe you'll get lucky and the cop will be too lazy to chase you down. But if he does, it's gonna hurt.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)

extremely unprofessional and naive... you'd be getting what you deserve.

Whether it's 1 or 1000 doesn't matter



Seriously? Was that necessary? I said "I'm almost positive nothing would happen” because in all likelihood, no one would notice 5 t-shirts for two months in a hamlet in Canada! What was your whole 55 mph speech about if not to say the exact same thing? Of course 1 is still breaking the law, but it's all just a waste of time anyways because, if you would have read my post, you would have seen that I said, “BUT ALL THE SAME" I won't print them!

I never said I was going to do anything and I was asking you because, guess what, not everyone knows as much about t shirts as you do!

Thanks for the help, you did answer my questions even if it was interwoven with rude remarks and pointless and misinterpreted quotes.
 

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Just tell them if they go down this path George Lucas will own their ice cream shop (along with most everything else they have) that should get their attention.

Hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I know he probably mean well, I just had a crappy day, haha. I got hit by a car and it was my fault. Would have been ironic if the guy had been speeding at 55 mph :)

I gave Tim my thanks anyway. Thanks to everyone else as well.
 

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Seriously? Was that necessary? I said "I'm almost positive nothing would happen” because in all likelihood, no one would notice 5 t-shirts for two months in a hamlet in Canada!
Yes, it was necessary. Willful infringement is something that should be taken very seriously.

What was your whole 55 mph speech about if not to say the exact same thing?
You kept asking questions, so I kept answering them. If it was redundant, I apologize. But I was answering the questions you asked.

Of course 1 is still breaking the law, but it's all just a waste of time anyways because, if you would have read my post, you would have seen that I said, “BUT ALL THE SAME" I won't print them!
You never said you wouldn't print them. You said you would advise them to keep them for employees. Then you asked if that was fine. So again, I was just answering your question. If it was rude or redundant, again, I apologize. I was just trying to help.

I never said I was going to do anything and I was asking you because, guess what, not everyone knows as much about t shirts as you do!
For the third time in this post, I will apologize. I oftentimes take for granted that people don't know as much about intellectual property law. I've been around it for a number of years now, so it just becomes common. Hopefully you will be able to look through the rudeness and find some information that helps you.

Thanks for the help, you did answer my questions even if it was interwoven with rude remarks and pointless and misinterpreted quotes.
Your welcome.

I admit the rudeness, but none of my comments were pointless or misinterpreted. I answered all of your questions thoroughly and correctly based on my knowledge and experience.

It seems like you are trying to be rude to get even. So mission accomplished, let's call it even.

I'm definitely never coming here for help again.
That would be unfortunate. But it's a public forum, so you're free to stay or free to go.

On a separate note, I'm sorry to hear about your accident.
 

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I know he probably mean well, I just had a crappy day, haha. I got hit by a car and it was my fault. Would have been ironic if the guy had been speeding at 55 mph :)

I gave Tim my thanks anyway. Thanks to everyone else as well.
Tim's a good guy and only trying to help, the bad thing about a forum post or email is that you can't see the person, their reaction to what is being said, or even a gesture to see if they get it or not.

He was not trying to belittle you or anything other help you, sometimes a analogy or example is the best way to explain the severity to someone who doesn't know.

Hope this helps.
 

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Tim, as a complete beginner to all this I just wanted to add that in the short time I have been here I have learned a lot from reading many of your posts. I appreciate the time you take to give knowledgeable answers to the many questions which must be somewhat redundant to you at times. I appreciate your patience and I hope you keep it up.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
It seems like you are trying to be rude to get even. So mission accomplished, let's call it even.
On a separate note, I'm sorry to hear about your accident.
Hi Tim, let me first start by asking for your forgiveness. I really misjudged both your character as well as your intention with your reply. What I thought was an intentional pointing out of the stupidity of my questions was actually your dedication, just disgust of copyright infringement, and helpfulness. I really do apologize for making you out to be rude when you were actually just being really thoroughly helpful. I would have stopped any design plans with a simple “no, it’s illegal”. The last thing I want to do is break the law or get in trouble and I just felt stupid because it seemed like you were chastising someone who dead set on copyright infringement when the opposite is true.
As for the rudeness, I realize you weren’t being rude, just thorough. I apologize for my reply which, while meant to be more indignant than rude, was undeniably more purposefully rude than yours. Even if you had been trying to be rude or were disgusted by my naivety, that was no reason for me to reply in such a manner. I hope I didn’t offend you too much and that I didn’t affect your day.
Also, sorry to anyone else who read this thread and had to watch my stupidity and rudeness. I guess I was the only one who misinterpreted Tim’s reply.
Finally, thanks for the help Tim. You really know a lot about this and it’s really great of you to answer people’s questions for free. Also, thanks for the sympathy. It was really stupid, I was playing tennis and a ball went way out so I chased it into the street like a 6 year old. I guess this whole day I’ve been acting like a 6 year old though (“I'm definitely never coming here for help again.”)Honestly, what a baby!
 

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No problem, Akira. I think we can put it all behind us and move on.

As Jon referred to, sometimes these things happen on forums when you can't hear a tone of voice or see a friendly face.
 
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