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hello friends,

i'm wondering how much hell would i get for reprinting song lyrics on a tee. i've already found the publishing companies i'd need to contact and see what kind of usage fees they'd want. i'm just wondering what the typical tshirt 'underworld' norm is.

i mean, we see movie quotes and pop culture references/parodies on tees all over the place - do they ALL get formal permission (i.e., pay fees) to reprint the duplication/likeness?

please counsel this young grasshopper...

-claire
 

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I'm pretty sure you would need to get permission for song lyrics to use them on t-shirts.

Some places do get permission, some just try to fly under the radar until they get a cease and desist letter from the movie studio or whoever the actual owner of the intellectual property is.
 

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Rodney said:
I'm pretty sure you would need to get permission for song lyrics to use them on t-shirts.

Some places do get permission, some just try to fly under the radar until they get a cease and desist letter from the movie studio or whoever the actual owner of the intellectual property is.
this may be a silly question, but do you have to get a cease and desist letter before you can get sued?
 

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RAHchills said:
this may be a silly question, but do you have to get a cease and desist letter before you can get sued?
No, many lawyers skip the cease and desist and go straight to the lawsuit.

It all depends on how agressive the law firm is and maybe how bad the infringement is.
 

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I think you'll see smaller companies skip the cease and desist orders. A lot of individual copyright holders are sue happy. I would venture to guess that many hold copyrights so they have a leg to sue on (pun intended). I have gotten two cease and desists from major corporations... their candor was very professional. Look for the little guy to try and sue your pants off for an easy payday.
 

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I would venture to guess that many hold copyrights so they have a leg to sue on (pun intended).
I'm guessing from their viewpoint, they hold the copyright so they are protected and have recourse when they see someone infringing on their design.

My guess is that large corporations may send cease and desist letters because they may feel that coming from a large corporation, people would take it more seriously.

A smaller company may have tried the cease and desist route but didn't get taken seriously (because they had no big corporate name behind them), so they may have gone to the "sue first" route so people will take them seriously.

I've gotten cease and desist orders from both large and small companies and I've had cease and desist orders sent to both large and small companies. Interestingly enough, the large corporations seem the most willing to comply, while the smaller companies/individuals try to rationalize it or just ignore you altogether until you get more serious.
 

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I just a got a lyric t-shirt from this site called Orphan Lyrics www.orphanlyrics.com
They have 100's of artists song lyric t-shirts. Do you think they actually got permission from EVERY single artist? I just don't see how that's possible. Or maybe it's possible, but it seems like a LOT of work just to sell some T's...
Thoughts?
 

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"100% of profits donated to charity" would be relevent to having an easier time getting permission from the copyright owners rather than negotiating payment and fees which would be expensive and time consuming.
 

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I just a got a lyric t-shirt from this site called Orphan Lyrics www.orphanlyrics.com
They have 100's of artists song lyric t-shirts. Do you think they actually got permission from EVERY single artist? I just don't see how that's possible. Or maybe it's possible, but it seems like a LOT of work just to sell some T's...
Thoughts?
Go back and read the about page as it talks about how they do what they do.
 

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True. And after I paid for my shirt it asked me which kids charity I would like to donate to. Very cool.. but I also looked over the site (a little) and found that they are not a non-profit. So if they are in it for the money, then how do you make money giving 100% of the profits away? So if they are potentially lying about that, they why wouldn't/couldn't they be lying about the permission (license?) thing?
 

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True. And after I paid for my shirt it asked me which kids charity I would like to donate to. Very cool.. but I also looked over the site (a little) and found that they are not a non-profit. So if they are in it for the money, then how do you make money giving 100% of the profits away? So if they are potentially lying about that, they why wouldn't/couldn't they be lying about the permission (license?) thing?
If they are lying about having licenses, then they would be sued.. they are not hiding what they're doing.

Isn't Non-profit an official status you have to apply for?

I could lose money every year and still run a business for profit even if I don't make any as long as I have personal or private funding to keep my business running.
 

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Good point. Maybe they are in a financial position that I could only dream of..
I hope that's true.. its nice to think that there's still good people out there trying to make a difference.
Maybe I should go buy another shirt ;-)
 

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Song lyrics are copyrighted. Unless one gets legal permission, license agreement, then it is copyright infringement. A quick trip to the copyright.gov easily explains that.

For this company, on their website, they write up a great bit of how they operate. They "give away" more than they "keep". They also are fully licensed and signed contracts with major music publishers.

This page on their site includes all the information that answers:
http://www.orphanlyrics.com/the-story-so-far.aspx
*How do they do it and get away with it?
*How are they a for profit company and give the profits to charity?


As far as other tee shirts you see being printed with song lyrics on them, here is some general information to keep in mind:

Original quote by Solmu:

"The usual story:

  • Some do whatever they want and wait for the cease and desist letter (and hope the company doesn't skip over it)
  • Some can afford lawyers to defend on the basis of parody, etc.
  • Some are in the process of getting sued and losing
  • Some are in the process of getting sued and winning
  • Some are just lucky and not getting caught
  • Some are just lucky and not getting caught... yet
  • Some will plan to settle out of court
  • Some are ignorant of the law and don't realise the world of hurt that is coming
  • Some are carefully staying on the right side of the legal divide
  • Some are carefully staying on the right side of the legal divide, but will be sued anyway, and unable to afford an adequate legal defense even though what they were doing was theoretically legal.
In other words, some are getting away with it, some aren't."

Endquote
Since this thread topic is ultimately a legal question, it's best that we steer clear of it. There are plenty of topics that cover copyright and trademark and using famous images in parody that you can find by using the search box at the top of the forum.

The usual recommendations apply:

- Talk to lawyer if you want to do something that you think might be illegal or have a legal question. They will be the ones that can help you and even then, you could still get sued. But at least then, if you get sued and they said it was probably "ok", then at least you have someone that can go to court for you.

- Any "ways around it" advice given in a forum could get you sued. Even if 1000 people tell you it's OK, you could still get sued and have to come up with a lawyer and defend your right to do it.

For further reading, check out:

U.S. Copyright Office

Trademarks

copyright related topics at T-Shirt Forums

trademark related topics at T-Shirt Forums
 
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