Celebrity face + Teespring = Copyright?

40 replies
Does using a famous face on a shirt subject an individual to copyright?
#celebrity #copyright #face #teespring
  • Profile picture of the author kindsvater
    There's a few legal issues that come to mind for celebrities. I'd think of something else to put on your shirt.

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  • Profile picture of the author JosephC
    [DELETED]
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    • Profile picture of the author PPC Ninja
      I think im gonna do it anyway. lol
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      • Profile picture of the author JosephC
        Originally Posted by PPC Ninja View Post

        I think im gonna do it anyway. lol
        Its not illegal unless you get caught, but this is obviously copyright, so you might very well get caught.
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        *hi

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      • Profile picture of the author KenJ
        Originally Posted by PPC Ninja View Post

        I think im gonna do it anyway. lol
        Nooooooooo!!!!!!!!!

        This is a demonstration of stupidity.

        You ask the question and then ignore the advice! Why did you ask the question? Did you want to know the answer, or just fill this forum with useless threads?

        KenJ
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        • Profile picture of the author PPC Ninja
          Originally Posted by KenJ View Post

          Nooooooooo!!!!!!!!!

          This is a demonstration of stupidity.

          You ask the question and then ignore the advice! Why did you ask the question? Did you want to know the answer, or just fill this forum with useless threads?

          KenJ
          I don't recall asking for a sarcastic response. I must have missed that part. On another note, I don't think that drawings / paintings are copyright but I'm not sure. Going to have to research more.
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          • Profile picture of the author KenJ
            Originally Posted by PPC Ninja View Post

            I don't recall asking for a sarcastic response. I must have missed that part. On another note, I don't think that drawings / paintings are copyright but I'm not sure. Going to have to research more.
            Yes you are going to have to research more. You didn't ask for sarcasm and I didn't give it.

            KenJ
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          • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
            Banned
            Originally Posted by PPC Ninja View Post

            I don't think that drawings / paintings are copyright but I'm not sure.

            It's not (just) about copyright.


            It's about exploiting celebrities' images for your own profit. That can breach people's civil-law rights.

            Originally Posted by PPC Ninja View Post

            Going to have to research more.
            That, at least, is more sensible than some of what you've said above.
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      • Profile picture of the author Angshuman Dutta
        Originally Posted by PPC Ninja View Post

        I think im gonna do it anyway. lol
        I'm sure you wanna be very successful with your campaign. I wish you that too. But, when that happens you will end up on the wrong side of the river and risk losing it all.

        Try to look beyond the bend. Would you happy to be forced down to pull down the shutters on your business because you didn't bother to abide by the laws in the first place?

        Celeb shirts are hot, but definitely not the hottest. Try putting something else on the shirts and you'll not have to spend sleepless nights when the big bucks start rolling in.
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      • Profile picture of the author Tsnyder
        Originally Posted by PPC Ninja View Post

        I think im gonna do it anyway. lol
        I think you should absolutely go ahead and do it anyway. With your attitude
        you aren't likely to be successful at anything anyway. Might as well keep you
        busy and out of the way doing stuff that won't interfere with the honest marketers.
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        If you knew what I know you'd be doing what I do...
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  • Profile picture of the author JensSteyaert
    Yes just ask yourself, why would big companies pay millions of dollars to get celebrities in their commercials, if anybody could simply use them to make money, in whatever way.

    I wouldn't go that route if i were you...
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  • Profile picture of the author Rbtmarshall
    It would probably be a violation of the celebrities privacy rights unless you have a contract with them.


    http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/publicity
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  • Profile picture of the author PPC Ninja
    I guess I'll find out. Theres tons of shirts and such on Teespring with team logos and such that sell hundreds. A few do get caught, but the people who got around it made tons.
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    • Profile picture of the author Rbtmarshall
      Originally Posted by PPC Ninja View Post

      I guess I'll find out. Theres tons of shirts and such on Teespring with team logos and such that sell hundreds. A few do get caught, but the people who got around it made tons.

      The Ohio State University v. Teespring, Inc. :: Justia Dockets & Filings
      http://www.scribd.com/doc/234268707/...ring-Complaint

      fist the copyright holder will sue teespring, then teespring will sue you is my guess of what will happen if you are found to be using trademarks, etc. without consent



      http://teespring.com/about/terms
      ...By creating a campaign on the Teespring site:

      You agree to accept and abide by Teespring’s Terms of Service in their entirety.
      With respect to any trademarks, service marks or copyrights that you have licensed from the owner thereof (the “Licensed Rights”), you agree to comply with any restrictions or conditions imposed on the use of the Licensed Rights.
      You agree that you are the owner, or licensee, of all rights associated with any created or uploaded artwork or text, including but not limited to, the trademarks and copyrights that may be associated with said material. If you are not the owner, you agree to provide Teespring with evidence of the permission given to you by the owner.

      ...
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  • Profile picture of the author qowb
    It is possibly a violation, because almost 100% of the pictures of those celebrities are taken by the professional photographers and such photos are always usually protected by copyright laws (in the respective countries) and reproduction without permission is illegal.

    However, if you take the photo yourself and have the permission to use it, you can. Basically, without thinking too much, you still can (and assume others naive and give more value to those who are doing this way), but it says, the businesses that use celebrity images on their t-shirts (or whatever) without permission actually take considerable financial and legal risks. A celebrity can easily prevail in lawsuits to stop the sale. So, if you are planning something big, better play under law.
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  • Profile picture of the author miklanderson2
    Just because they've got away with it up until now doesn't mean they've got away with. If Teespring gets sued for past copyright violations and ends up losing a large sum of money, they aren't likely to just let it go. There are so many other ways to make money using Teespring that don't violate trademarks and copyrights, there's no good reason to put yourself at risk doing so.
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    • Profile picture of the author PPC Ninja
      Well I didn't mention. The graphic is a drawing that I edited. Not an actual photograph. Does that change anything?
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      • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
        Banned
        You're still exploiting a celebrity's image for your own profit, I think?

        I hope you have deep pockets and good legal advice.

        Unlike one of the other people above, advising you not to do this, I'm not a lawyer myself, but I'm still aware that celebrities are exactly the people whose agencies sometimes employ people specifically to scour the web (and other places) to identify people doing this, after which their contingent-fee lawyers are quick to leap into action. I think it's a recipe for "accidents", and for obvious and predictable reasons, too.

        .
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      • Profile picture of the author qowb
        Originally Posted by PPC Ninja View Post

        Well I didn't mention. The graphic is a drawing that I edited. Not an actual photograph. Does that change anything?
        I am not a legal person, but if you design the graphic yourself or hold the copyright on that painting, possibly you can do that. But I am not very sure, why don't you seek a legal advice from a law person? You are looking very determined to do that, then why not take the right route? If I were you, I always seek a legal help, trust me.

        Anyways, congrats in advance for your determination to start a venture (or new venture). Wish you all the best. Just stay under rule, always.
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  • Profile picture of the author miklanderson2
    I'm not sure about the legalities of selling a drawing of a celebrity, but I know for a fact there's a bunch of them for sale on sites like Ebay and FineArtAmerica.com. I personally wouldn't risk it because if the celebrity decided they want to take action, they can make life very difficult on you and they have much deeper pockets than you do.
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    "A bargain is something you don’t need at a price you can’t resist."
    -Franklin Jones

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  • Profile picture of the author Ryan Even
    I once had a celebrity's name in one of my domains...

    It did not end well for me.

    The good news is, I bet you could get Dustin Diamond to allow you to use his photo for $50!
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  • Profile picture of the author hassan007
    If your design is copyright. TeeSpring will not be going to print that. Better ask them on support@teespring.com if you have any copyright questions. They deal with dozens of them daily.
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  • Profile picture of the author ForumGuru
    Banned
    Originally Posted by PPC Ninja View Post

    Does using a famous face on a shirt subject an individual to copyright?
    Originally Posted by PPC Ninja View Post

    Well I didn't mention. The graphic is a drawing that I edited. Not an actual photograph. Does that change anything?
    Originally Posted by PPC Ninja View Post

    I don't think that drawings / paintings are copyright but I'm not sure. Going to have to research more.

    Right of Publicity:


    It's called the right of publicity. Copyright infringement is an altogether different matter that deals with the use of images that you do not have a license or permission to use. One more thing to consider is if you made a drawing from an image it could still be subject to copyright laws as a derivative work. And yes, according to US copyright law drawings and reproductions of paintings are also copyrighted unless the person that holds the copyright has been dead for 70 years...same goes for photographs. Anonymous work, a pseudonymous work, or a work made for hire the copyright term is 95 years from publication or 120 years from the date of creation, whichever is shorter.

    The right of publicity is the right to control the commercial exploitation of a person's name, image or persona. This right is traditionally associated with celebrities because the name or image of a famous person is used to sell products or services. For example, it is much easier to sell a t-shirt if there is a picture of Michael Jackson or Madonna on it. However, the unauthorized use of the image of Michael Jackson or Madonna for these purposes would infringe their right of publicity. This right only extends to commercial exploitation. Information uses such as articles at celebrity websites are permissible.
    The Right of Publicity | Nolo.com

    Copyright Law:


    The term of copyright for a particular work depends on several factors, including whether it has been published, and, if so, the date of first publication. As a general rule, for works created after January 1, 1978, copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years. For an anonymous work, a pseudonymous work, or a work made for hire, the copyright endures for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first. For works first published prior to 1978, the term will vary depending on several factors.
    How Long Does Copyright Protection Last? (FAQ) | U.S. Copyright Office

    Derivatives:

    First, many artists don’t realize that they need permission from photographers if they use somebody else’s photograph as reference for a painting. When an artist uses a photograph for reference, the painting or artwork is called a derivative work. While the artist can maintain some ownership over their own work, they first need permission from the original photographer to use the photo for reference.

    <snip>

    If your photos, drawings, paintings or illustrations are first published in the United States or in a country with which the US has a copyright treaty, they are protected automatically without being registered with the US Copyright Office.
    Copyright Issues for Artists | Bellevue Fine Art ReproductionBellevue Fine Art Reproduction

    You can look around for rights managed images of famous people at some of the stock photo agencies that include extended rights and a release that will allow you to sell items for resale. Some famous folks will license their likeness (give you a release) for a fee specifically for this purpose.

    Cheers

    -don
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  • Profile picture of the author Alex Blades
    Originally Posted by PPC Ninja View Post

    I think im gonna do it anyway. lol
    The dumbest crap I've heard all day.

    That, at least, is more sensible than some of what you've said above.
    He is full of crap, he was just hoping for someone to tell him to go for it.

    "I am not a legal person, but if you design the graphic yourself or hold the copyright on that painting, possibly you can do that."

    I am pretty sure he the launch campaign button as soon as he got his answer
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  • Profile picture of the author daled123
    You can buy stock photos with the rights to print the images onto merchandise. As somebody said above they licence their photos for a cost. You could purchase the rights to print and sell 1000 for a set fee for example.
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    • Profile picture of the author Dennis Gaskill
      Originally Posted by joecason View Post

      Its not illegal unless you get caught, but this is obviously copyright, so you might very well get caught.
      You're kidding, right?
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      Just when you think you've got it all figured out, someone changes the rules.

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  • Profile picture of the author WillR
    1. Trademark law was designed to stop this very thing from happening. If you are profiting from the reputation of a well known brand, celebrity, etc, then you are skating on thin ice. You know that your thsirt would not sell without the image of the celebrity on it and so there is the answer you need. You are using someone else's reputation to sell your own products.

    2. If you think it's funny and worth ignoring, have a quick read of this first:
    Topshop ordered to pay Rihanna's £1m legal bill after it sold T-shirts using 'unflattering' image of popstar

    There is no helping some people.

    The fact you have come on to a forum, asked people and been told it's illegal, if you then go ahead, do it, and get caught, it won't turn out well for you.
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  • Profile picture of the author unreal
    Yes sure it's a copyright!. Try to contact teespring first before make any design!
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  • Profile picture of the author master reseller
    Most sites like TeeSpring will have TOS against using a celebrity image anyway. So even if the celebrity allowed it, the site you are trying to sell the work on would not.
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  • Profile picture of the author globalexperts
    Originally Posted by PPC Ninja View Post

    Does using a famous face on a shirt subject an individual to copyright?
    Just contact Teespring support to make sure. But I think they won't allow it.
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  • Profile picture of the author NatWil00
    Do NOT do absolutely what you have in mind to do!

    You're going to great legal problems.

    You can not use the others people's picture (famous or not famous!).

    If you want a famous person on your t-shirts, prepared to pay a lot of money!
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  • Profile picture of the author Geek3000
    Whenever I have a legal question I go to avvo dot com. They let you ask a legal question for free and then multiple lawyers will respond to it.
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    • Profile picture of the author ForumGuru
      Banned
      Originally Posted by Geek3000 View Post

      Whenever I have a legal question I go to avvo dot com. They let you ask a legal question for free and then multiple lawyers will respond to it.
      Yeah...and posted below is what one of those IP attorneys said on this subject after he makes his standard disclaimer:

      Please be advised that while I am a licensed and experienced intellectual property attorney I may or may not be licensed to practice in any jurisdiction where the reader may reside or have business, and nothing herein is meant to constitute specific legal advice. Always consult a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction and familiar with the relevant law and your particular situation before making legal decisions.
      To the meat of the matter...

      There are two sets of rights which may attach to any photograph showing a recognizable human being. The first we will collectively refer to as the right of publicity, although in some jurisdictions it is also referred to as the right of privacy, even though technically they are two different things. For purposes of our discussion, the right of publicity (or, for brevity, the RoP) is the right to control the use of your own likeness. This right belongs to the recognizable human being depicted, to whom we shall refer as the model. It is governed by state law. The other right which may attach to the photograph is copyright....

      Written by Marc Whipple - Intellectual Property Law Attorney

      Model Releases, Copyrights, and other Intellectual Property Concerns for Photographers and Models - Avvo.com
      This is common knowledge among professionals in the numerous image and graphics industries and I have posted similar info a number times in the forum as well as linked to similar info from Stanford Law School, Nolo and several others including many legal authorities.

      Nothing we can do about the OP choosing to ignore or not consult with the law peeps.

      Cheers

      -don
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  • Profile picture of the author NathanKruz
    Yea unfortunately it is copyright Funny story, it happened to me once. I made a T-shirt with a sports players name on it and it was reported for Copyright and was taken down off of Tee-Spring.

    Hope This helps

    BN
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  • Profile picture of the author big tymer
    it's not worth the hassle as you may be able to do it a few times without any issues and think you found a goldmine, but if you choose the wrong celebrity and they or their lawyer make a big noise about it you will find yourself in a world of pain.
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  • Profile picture of the author seekdefo
    You might get a cease and desist
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  • Profile picture of the author craighakwins
    It's something that you might want to avoid, buddy. Not worth the risk. You'll earn a little I guarantee you that but the risks outweigh the rewards by a mile.
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  • Profile picture of the author fatchap
    why are you asking a bunch of legally ignorant internet expoliters? See a lawyer
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    • Profile picture of the author ForumGuru
      Banned
      Originally Posted by fatchap View Post

      why are you asking a bunch of legally ignorant internet expoliters? See a lawyer
      Really? That's a little harsh.

      #1 Professionals in the image business deal with these exact questions on a day-to-day basis. Obviously they have to be informed of the relevant applicable law because they are the ones that actually license images for these types of uses.

      #2 These types of question are answered publicly on many law and professional stock photo sites.

      #3 The first reply on this thread was made by a professional law guy.

      #4 Lastly, many Teespring users have had designs yanked for not having proper licenses and releases.

      Sure, the OP can hire lawyer and ask the question but copyright and right of publicity is not anything new...especially here in the US. Could the OP receive different advice from his attorney after explaining the full details of his proposed project? Possibly so, but it's unlikely.

      Check out a few of excerpts from the Teespring FAQ.

      Okay – what is intellectual property, exactly?

      Intellectual property rights protect individuals from the unauthorized use of his or her unique expression. When designing a Teespring campaign, you must either use original designs or designs with explicit authorization for use. Teespring does not endorse the use of stolen material, and will immediately shut down any campaign that infringes on Intellectual Property rights.
      What if I have explicit permission to use copyrighted or trademarked work? What if I want to give someone else permissions to use my copyrighted or trademarked work?

      That’s totally fine! You should have written documentation from the intellectual property owner prior to launching your campaign. Teespring may also request that you provide us that documentation at support@teespring.com prior to launching or continuing your campaign.
      What does it mean if someone submits a “takedown request” for my design?

      It depends the nature of the request. If we receive a request with sufficient evidence of intellectual property ownership coupled with a colorable claim of infringement that includes the information required under our Complaint Policy, we’ll request that you resolve the matter with the complaining party. If you don’t, or a resolution is not achieved, we reserve the right to terminate the infringing campaign and notify the campaign creator.

      Users who are the targets of multiple allegations of infringement made against them run the risk of getting banned from the site. As long as you stick to original designs, you’ll likely avoid copyright or intellectual property issues.

      Still have questions?

      Check out copyright.gov for additional answers or clarification, or ema
      il support@teespring.com.

      http://teespring.com/faq
      Your name and likeness is considered Intellectual Property!

      The most valuable thing that a person can own is his or her identity. As a piece of intellectual property, his or her name and likeness or publicity rights represent a person’s identity. Continental Enterprises ("Continental") has been at the forefront of the fight aggressively protecting this basic property right throughout the United States and abroad.

      Our home state of Indiana has one of the most effective and comprehensive name and likeness statutes in the country, providing protection for one hundred years after the death of an individual. Continental has used this fact to effectively disrupt infringers' business and protect our clients' publicity rights.

      http://www.ce-ip.com/ip-name-likeness.php#.U95hDPldV8E
      The Right of Publicity as part of the intellectual property family:

      The Right of Publicity is often confused with its more recognized cousins in the intellectual property family, copyright and trademark. However, the historical origins of copyright, trademark and the Right of Publicity demonstrate distinct policy, rationales for the interests that each is designed to protect.

      The Right of Publicity has little to do with copyright. Copyright applies to the bundle of rights one acquires in “original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression,” according to 17 U.S.C. Section 102 (a), so the exclusive rights held by a copyright owner apply to the work itself. This can get complicated, as Right of Publicity and copyright considerations can simultaneously be implicated in a single usage. An advertisement featuring a celebrity’s picture may require authorization from the photographer for the copyright use, and from the celebrity for the Right of Publicity use. Because these are wholly distinct claims with independent parties charged with standing to assert them, federal copyright laws generally will not preempt a state-based, Right of Publicity claim.

      http://rightofpublicity.com/brief-history-of-rop
      So even if you licensed an image to use you must make sure you have the PROPER model and/or property release that allows you to use the image for commercial works, specifically for items for resale. Again, Copyright and Right of Publicity are two entirely different matters, and both must be considered when selling T-Shirts with the likeness of famous people on them. Sure, some exceptions could possibly apply, but unless you know the law you won't have a clue as to what exceptions may exist.

      Cheers

      -don
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  • Profile picture of the author aspic791
    TeeSpring will automatically cancel your campaign if someone notifies them on a trademark infringement.
    The question is.... do you want to spend time and money running an advertising campaign only to have it cancelled?
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  • Profile picture of the author nicholasb
    If its an original drawing you made copyright is not the issue to be concerned with it's Trademark, but it sounds to me like you are begging to be sued so go for it and dont say we didnt warn you, dont come here crying after you get sued
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