Thinking of ‘Borrowing’?

There are always a few misguided souls who think they can copy our products and then sell them themselves.

The trouble is that every copy they turn out makes it that much more likely we’ll hear about it, which makes it that much easier for us to track them down. Every once in awhile we do hear about someone trying to make a buck on our work. We post a hefty reward. Sooner or later we get a name. And then it’s over.

We’ve caught two such persons in the last few years. One settled immediately after being subpoenaed. The other waited until our attorney met them on the steps to the courthouse, on their way to the civil trial. They settled before court was in session.

We make every effort to never, ever step on anyone’s Copyright. We produce all text from scratch, and almost all images from scratch. And if we ever did inadvertently tread on someone’s Copyright, we’d apologize profusely; we’d apologize publicly; we’d offer them our first-born—and we’d kill ourselves in some unbelievably painful and messy fashion directly thereafter, just to show them how sorry we were..

We keep our prices as low as we can possibly keep them. Our prices are purposely designed to be so low that there will be NO excuse for ANYONE to steal our work. Even if someone only makes minimum wage, it will cost them more in time to steal our work, than to simply buy it. If they do swipe it, they’re not only guilty of theft, they’re guilty of stupidity.

Copyright Violators will be (and have been) aggressively prosecuted and sued for recompensation.

More About Copyright:
(Kudos to the sender)

What is a Copyright? A copyright protects original work of authorship such as a picture, drawing, graphics, software program, written work, sculpture, song, or photograph. Copyright law prevents you from copying another’s copyrighted work for any purpose, making things based on the copyrighted work, distributing copies of the copyrighted work, publicly performing the copyrighted work, displaying the copyrighted work, and in the case of sound recordings, transmitting the recording over the internet or in another media. In a nutshell, copyright law protects the expression of one’s idea.

What is a Trademark? A trademark is a word, name, symbol or other device that identifies the goods or services of a given person or company and distinguishes them from the goods or services of other persons or companies. Trademark law prevents you from using another’s trademark (such as the name of a musical group or artist) on your merchandise, because such use will cause consumers to believe that the trademark owner has made, approved of, or endorsed your merchandise. In short, a trademark is someone’s brand.

What is Right of Publicity? The Right of Publicity makes it unlawful to use another’s identity for commercial advantage without permission. A person’s “identity” includes, for example, his look, voice, name, nickname, professional name, and other distinctive characteristics. For example, the Right of Publicity prohibits you using the picture of a celebrity without authorization on your merchandise.

Frequently Asked Questions  If it does not have a copyright notice, it is ok to use. NOT REALLY. Almost all works are protected by copyright, even if they do not have a copyright notice. Therefore, you should assume that you need to obtain permission to use any material that you did not create.

It’s on the internet, so it is ok to use it. FALSE. Simply because an image is found on the Net does not mean that it is in the public domain. Unless the author of the work has explicitly stated that his work is “public domain” or that the copyright has expired because the work is very old, then you must assume it is not. Further, a person who posts an image on the Net and claims that you are free to use may not have had the right to post the image in the first place. Thus, your use of the image may violate the rights of the actual copyright owner.

It is Fair Use. PROBABLY NOT. Fair use of a work for the purposes of merchandise sale is treated very differently than for informative purposes or for commentary. In general, a claim of fair use of a work when it is used on merchandise [may] not hold up in court, especially if the merchandise is sold for profit.

I took the photo, so I can use it however I want. NOT EXACTLY. Simply taking a photo of a person, company, band, logo or the like does not afford you the right to sell merchandise featuring that photograph.

I based my artwork on the artwork of a third party, so that is ok. FALSE. Works that are derived from a previous work of another violate the rights of the owner of the previous work. Therefore, if you are creating an image that is based on the work of someone else, you need to obtain permission from the original creator prior to your use of your work.

It’s parody, so it is ok. FALSE. Parody used for informative purposes is treated very differently from parody used for the sale of merchandise. Parody as a defense to infringement claims based on merchandise sale [may] not hold up in court.

The First Amendment protects my freedom of speech, so I can use whatever images I want. FALSE. Freedom of speech is a constitutional protection that guarantees that the government will not oppress your right to self-expression. It does not give you the right to use intellectual property of another to sell or distribute merchandise.

Sources for Information

For additional information on Copyrights, please visit the United States Copyright Office Library of Congress at For additional information on Trademarks, please visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office at For general questions about Intellectual Property Rights (copyrights/trademarks), please visit the Nolo Law Center at