New business idea, but will it have copyright infringement

Discussion in 'Business Ideas' started by danstelter, May 8, 2016.

  1. danstelter

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    Aug 26, 2013
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    Hey everyone -

    So I got an idea for a business. It would be to create T-shirts with quotes attributed to famous people that they never actually said. The quotes would be funny. It's really just a fun side-business. Not my main one.

    So, a shirt would have a quote, and then the person's name.

    Any copyright infringement there?

    What if that included a picture?

    Plus, this might include historical figures that are now long dead. Or it could also include contemporary figures like sports stars.

    Can I use their names and pictures without legal permission?

    Please show me how US copyright law does or does not apply in this situation. Thanks,

  2. cheta

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    Jun 27, 2016
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    If it is an international firm and you are producing on a very large scale, then i suggest you get their permission first if they are still alive. if not, you need not worry too much. Also you can seek the services of a legal expert/luminary in your country to advise you on what best to do in situations like this too.
  3. Tedel

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    Dec 19, 2014
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    If the author is dead or if the quote can obviously be taken as fake, I would say go for it.
    If the author is alive, free speech can give you some right to publish what you want, but defamation is a crime, so be careful with that.
    If any representative of any famous person gives you a notice requesting to stop using his or her name, comply.
  4. HooktoWin

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    Nov 24, 2014
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    Hey Dan, it's a clever idea. Trolling at its finest. :D
    • Copyright infringement may be a problem if you're intentionally using their likeness/brand without permission.
    • If you include a picture, and you're making a profit that's definitely going to be a problem.
    • Including historical figures may not be as much of a problem as long as there's no disputes or complaints from their estate. provides a broad definition of copyright infringement. It'd be no problem for a decent attorney to argue that your idea infringes on another person's rights, especially if it includes their face, brand or property.

    At first this won't be a problem. That changes when you start to make a lot more money or attract more attention.

    Even if you're able to win your case in court it's still going to be expensive and messy. Also has to do is tie you up in court, forcing you to defend yourself.

    As I see it you have two options:
    1. Find a way to deal with copyright or trademark infringement claims ahead of time – or –
    2. Abandon ship and pass on your idea.
    Let me know if you have more questions. I can go into more detail if necessary.

    Hope that helps,


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