PDA

View Full Version : Cafe Press just pulled one of my images. Copyright infringement?




freeny
Mar 11, 2008, 01:42 PM
I have been selling shirts and miscellaneous apparel on Cafe Press with the attached image for over two years now. They just pulled it due to "Possible copyright infringement"

As far as I know, I havent broken any copyright laws here.
And nowhere do I use the name of this character.

Does anyone know and have a link to the laws pertaining to this?



TEG
Mar 11, 2008, 01:46 PM
Is it someone elses work, or a commercial item? If so, then they have a point. You can only use someone elses work with permission, and Cafepress would need a copy of that permission. (Wrote before I knew what it was.)

Honestly, I don't see anything wrong, except maybe the black on the gloves may be some sort of Disney trademark. If the gloves had five digits there would be absolutely no question, since few US characters have five fingers, including that one.

TEG

freeny
Mar 11, 2008, 01:57 PM
Is it someone elses work, or a commercial item? If so, then they have a point. You can only use someone elses work with permission, and Cafepress would need a copy of that permission. (Wrote before I knew what it was.)

Honestly, I don't see anything wrong, except maybe the black on the gloves may be some sort of Disney trademark. If the gloves had five digits there would be absolutely no question, since few US characters have five fingers, including that one.

TEG

all my own work.
i sent in a grievance. an automated response said i would contacted within 24 hours...

Ill post updates.

jeremy.king
Mar 11, 2008, 02:19 PM
Is that a splattered Mickey Mouse? I notice the shorts and gloves look awfully familiar. You really want to take on Disney?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/7/7f/Mickey_Mouse.svg/250px-Mickey_Mouse.svg.png

freeny
Mar 11, 2008, 02:29 PM
No they are not mickey's shorts or gloves...

Does Disney own the right to gloves? If so I can start posting all the characters who use them and should be sued...

Does Disney own the copyright to red shorts with buttons? If so I can start posting all the toys and characters and parodies that use them...

Parody- Copyright issues (wikipedia)

Although a parody can be considered a derivative work under United States Copyright Law, it can be protected from claims by the copyright owner of the original work under the fair use doctrine, which is codified in 17 USC 107. The Supreme Court of the United States stated that parody "is the use of some elements of a prior author's composition to create a new one that, at least in part, comments on that author's works." That commentary function provides some justification for use of the older work. See Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc.

In 2001, the United States Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit, in Suntrust v. Houghton Mifflin, upheld the right of Alice Randall to publish a parody of Gone with the Wind called The Wind Done Gone, which told the same story from the point of view of Scarlett O'Hara's slaves, who were glad to be rid of her.

saltyzoo
Mar 11, 2008, 02:30 PM
No they are not mickey's shorts or gloves...

Does Disney own the right to gloves? If so I can start posting all the characters who use them and should be sued...

Does Disney own the copyright to red shorts with buttons? If so I can start posting all the toys and characters and parodies that use them...

Perhaps you should read up on what a trademark is.

jeremy.king
Mar 11, 2008, 02:36 PM
No they are not mickey's shorts or gloves...


Well, I'm just saying...White gloves with 4 fingers 3 black slits on the top of the hand, red shorts with oversized white buttons...c'mon you can't seriously think people wouldn't recognize that? All you are missing is the yellow shoes.

Not only is it copyrighted, but protected by trademark too. Is it really a battle you want to fight?

freeny
Mar 11, 2008, 02:51 PM
Well, I'm just saying...White gloves with 4 fingers 3 black slits on the top of the hand, red shorts with oversized white buttons...c'mon you can't seriously think people wouldn't recognize that? All you are missing is the yellow shoes.

Not only is it copyrighted, but protected by trademark too. Is it really a battle you want to fight?

I will fight this until someone shows me documentation that I am breaking a copyright law. ;)

m searching the web and still cant find the description of Mickey Mouse's trademark.
If someone else finds it please post a link...

Ive found the patent numbers for Mickey Mouse- United States Patent Office. [63.120] [113.274]
but searching them produces no results...

klymr
Mar 11, 2008, 02:52 PM
Well, I'm just saying...White gloves with 4 fingers 3 black slits on the top of the hand, red shorts with oversized white buttons...c'mon you can't seriously think people wouldn't recognize that? All you are missing is the yellow shoes.

Not only is it copyrighted, but protected by trademark too. Is it really a battle you want to fight?

Exactly. Take a look at basic form of the two pairs of shorts. Pretty similar looking to me.

I will fight this until someone shows me documentation that I am breaking a copyright law. ;)

m searching the web and still cant find the description of Mickey Mouse's trademark.
If someone else finds it please post a link...

Ive found the patent numbers for Mickey Mouse- United States Patent Office. [63.120] [113.274]
but searching them produces no results...

Granted it's wikipedia, but still...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trademark
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trademark_infringement

I'd say you are more in the gray area of trademark infringement than the copyright infringement.

freeny
Mar 11, 2008, 03:08 PM
Granted it's wikipedia, but still...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trademark
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trademark_infringement

I'd say you are more in the gray area of trademark infringement than the copyright infringement.

Yes, Ive looked at that. I know what a copyright is and I know what copyright infringement is.

What we need to see is the description in the copyright itself...

Can anyone find the copyright for Mickey Mouse?

Blue Velvet
Mar 11, 2008, 03:09 PM
I think it's clear copyright infringement given the immediate visual association with Mickey Mouse, particularly if you've got hundreds of well-paid lawyers after your arse. :D

The concept of derivative work (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derivative_work) should be enough to give pause for thought.

bartelby
Mar 11, 2008, 03:10 PM
Wow, CafePress must have changed since the days they were the ones infringing copyrights.

saltyzoo
Mar 11, 2008, 03:14 PM
The fact that everyone knew what character it was without you saying is pretty good evidence you're likely to be in violation of the trademark.

jeremy.king
Mar 11, 2008, 03:17 PM
Yes, Ive looked at that. I know what a copyright is and I know what copyright infringement is.


Trademark != copyright.

Here are your trademarks
http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=toc&state=j1965q.1.1&p_search=searchss&p_L=50&BackReference=&p_plural=yes&p_s_PARA1=&p_tagrepl%7E%3A=PARA1%24LD&expr=PARA1+AND+PARA2&p_s_PARA2=mickey+mouse&p_tagrepl%7E%3A=PARA2%24COMB&p_op_ALL=AND&a_default=search&a_search=Submit+Query&a_search=Submit+Query

Here's how you find the copyright
http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-fairuse.html#whoowns

So you ready to fork over $150/hour + Document fees + legal fees?

Blue Velvet
Mar 11, 2008, 03:17 PM
Copyright does not cover ideas and information themselves, only the form or manner in which they are expressed. For example, the copyright to a Mickey Mouse cartoon restricts others from making copies of the cartoon or creating derivative works based on Disney's particular anthropomorphic mouse, but doesn't prohibit the creation of other works about anthropomorphic mice in general, so long as they're different enough to not be judged copies of Disney's.


Under the Berne Convention, copyrights for creative works do not have to be asserted or declared, as they are automatically in force at creation: an author need not "register" or "apply for" a copyright in countries adhering to the Berne Convention. As soon as a work is "fixed", that is, written or recorded on some physical medium, its author is automatically entitled to all copyrights in the work, and to any derivative works unless and until the author explicitly disclaims them, or until the copyright expires.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright


Let me put it this way: if I was a betting woman, I'd be putting my money on the mouse.

ChrisA
Mar 11, 2008, 03:37 PM
I have been selling shirts and miscellaneous apparel on Cafe Press with the attached image for over two years now. They just pulled it due to "Possible copyright infringement"

As far as I know, I havent broken any copyright laws here.
And nowhere do I use the name of this character.

Does anyone know and have a link to the laws pertaining to this?

You will have a VERY hard time saying this is not Micky Mouse. Logic tells me that the ONLY reason people buy this is because it is Micky Mouse. If it did not resemble Micky Mouse then no one would buy it.

You can argue "fair use" but that only applies to copyright. I'd bet Micky is a Trademark. Does fair use apply to TM as well? You'd need a lawyer and s/he'd charge you more then your cost to modify the artwork

Your best option would be to make some changes to the artwork.

freeny
Mar 11, 2008, 03:57 PM
You will have a VERY hard time saying this is not Micky Mouse. Logic tells me that the ONLY reason people buy this is because it is Micky Mouse. If it did not resemble Micky Mouse then no one would buy it.

You can argue "fair use" but that only applies to copyright. I'd bet Micky is a Trademark. Does fair use apply to TM as well? You'd need a lawyer and s/he'd charge you more then your cost to modify the artwork

Your best option would be to make some changes to the artwork.

Well of course Im not going to fight this or hire a lawyer. The amount I make on these shirts would hardly scratch the surface towards lawyer fees...

Ive looked up fair use- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_use
as well as parody laws- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parody

These seen to be my only fighting points.

Apparently there have been several famous counterculture lawsuits with disney and the use of its characters in a parody.
http://uncleeddiestheorycorner.blogspot.com/2007/05/woods-disney-parody.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/24/business/media/24crank.html
these are just a few...

Here are some counterculture toys on the market today that go far beyond my parody-
http://www.kidrobot.com/products2.cfm?ID=5757&cfid=5732246&cftoken=26603363&nav_chooser=
http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://farm1.static.flickr.com/54/117848873_441bec5937.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.flickr.com/photos/ikayama/117848873/&h=374&w=500&sz=77&hl=en&start=1&sig2=VuAaUtEKBB76qsvddXg-eQ&um=1&tbnid=kCH9sgFrl4P6eM:&tbnh=97&tbnw=130&ei=zPLWR5nlKZq6gwLDquDoBA&prev=/images%3Fq%3Drabid%2Bmickey%2Bmouse%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official%26sa%3DN
I could post more but you get the idea...

This fight apparently has been going on for quite some time...
Just goes to show you that money talks ;)

I will just have to wait until CafePress comes back to me with their conclusion...

mbrellisford
Mar 11, 2008, 04:41 PM
And I'm sure if you put this on a shirt it wouldn't be copyright infringement either?

http://img147.imageshack.us/img147/143/picture2pj5.png

You clearly have a dislike for Mickey Mouse =)

nfocus design
Mar 11, 2008, 04:45 PM
No they are not mickey's shorts or gloves...



If not Mickey then where did you get the idea? If I were you, I'd just stop using it. Especially using to make money. Come up with your own character. I'm sure Disney's lawyers don't get their legal credentials from Wikipedia :) I certainly wouldn't draw any more attention to this matter by posting on forums. I may be wrong, but I've heard that when you use copyrighted/trademarked material that the owner can come after you for all monies you made using their material as well as a host of other fees.

I have used cafepress for years and it CLEARLY states that you must own the rights to the images you are uploading.

freeny
Mar 11, 2008, 04:49 PM
And I'm sure if you put this on a shirt it wouldn't be copyright infringement either?

http://img147.imageshack.us/img147/143/picture2pj5.png

You clearly have a dislike for Mickey Mouse =)

No, thats blatant infringement :)
You dont see me trying to sell shirts of that do you? ;)

Not a dislike of Mickey but the company he represents and for reasons exactly like the one this thread is about... They're not the cute little company that makes happy movies for your kids...
Parody is not a crime.

Just to be clear, the issue I originally posted is with CafePress and not Disney. CafePress pulled the image.

thejadedmonkey
Mar 11, 2008, 04:51 PM
I don't see how the image is illagal...

1) I didn't realize it was Mickey at first.
2) So what if it is? it's a parody. I'm pretty sure since weird al can parody Queen, freeny could parody mickey..

Macky-Mac
Mar 11, 2008, 05:32 PM
.....Just to be clear, the issue I originally posted is with CafePress and not Disney. CafePress pulled the image.

in that case, it really doesn't matter if you've actually infringed on any Disney copyrights or not. If they're concerned that you might have, then that's a legitimate reason for them to pull your image. You can't really expect CafePress to expose their company to any of the expense of resolving any legal issues that might arise between you and Disney over your use of what might or might not be protected by Disney copyrights.

freeny
Mar 11, 2008, 07:15 PM
Got my reply from Cafe Press and it reads as follows-

Your use of a depiction of the likeness and distinctive characteristics of the Mickey Mouse character for commercial advantage without prior authorization is problematic as such use would potentially constitute copyright infringement against Disney.

-------------------

I consider this the end of the debate ;)

jeremy.king
Mar 11, 2008, 09:58 PM
I'm pretty sure since weird al can parody Queen, freeny could parody mickey..

Weird Al gets permission to parody artists' songs, which I am sure requires money to change hands.

notnek
Mar 12, 2008, 01:50 AM
Just find a local print shop and get a few shirts printed up. Sell them on eBay.

chrono1081
Mar 12, 2008, 02:25 AM
I see nothing wrong with it. Although I am no lawyer and I am pretty sure they would see something wrong with it.

If you want a great example of copywrite infringement look no farther then Family Guy. They even have an episode where they make fun of themselves for it then Peter turns into Mickey Mouse! If fox can get away with it im sure you can :)

nfocus design
Mar 12, 2008, 08:11 AM
I see nothing wrong with it. Although I am no lawyer and I am pretty sure they would see something wrong with it.

If you want a great example of copywrite infringement look no farther then Family Guy. They even have an episode where they make fun of themselves for it then Peter turns into Mickey Mouse! If fox can get away with it im sure you can :)

I hope you are kidding. FOX got P-E-R-M-I-S-S-I-O-N. The OP did not.

Apemanblues
Mar 12, 2008, 08:58 AM
Nevermind. Just design something else.

saltyzoo
Mar 12, 2008, 09:11 AM
FWIW, cafepress being a private company can refuse to use any image for any reason they'd like. Protecting themselves from lawsuits is one of the more honorable reasons to do so.

They have the right to refuse your image just because they don't like you (as long as it's not for discriminatory reasons covered under federal law).

You have the right to go somewhere else if you don't like it.

To put it another way to try to put it in perspective. This poor guy at cafepress gets two emails. One is from a pissed-off customer that sells a few t-shirts. The other is from a lawyer of a large corporation. If you're the poor guy at cafepress which are you going to be more concerned about making happy?

mr.666
Mar 12, 2008, 10:33 AM
honestly... every aspect of the character is part of a TM. i used to work on gumby merch and even the relationship of white to color in his eyes is specific... where he's looking EVERYTHING!

I'm very sure MM's spec's and TM are even wider and MORE closely watched.
consider yourself VERY LUCKY it's just cafepress thats pulled you and that Disney hasnt noticed it yet in two years, no doubt youd be sued! if one of your customers was seen at Disney wearing this... they would have been held and questioned.

change the gloves. the Black splat to a new color, and the short too, mabe plad w/ black smaller buttons.

BE HAPPY.

saltyzoo
Mar 12, 2008, 10:37 AM
if one of your customers was seen at Disney wearing this... they would have been held and questioned.

LOL. Maybe in Disneyland Cuba.

jerryrock
Mar 12, 2008, 12:33 PM
Learn from the experience! It is a great lesson in copyright infringement and ethics is graphic design.
:apple:

freeny
Mar 12, 2008, 01:33 PM
Here is an excellent article written about "Parody" and "Fair use" in legal terms-
http://www.publaw.com/parody.html

Point is, I could have fought this and had some grounds to stand on. It would have cost me thousands of dollars in legal fees that would have greatly out weighed the $57+- I have made on selling the shirts.

There of course would have been no guarentee that I would have won and from the historical research Ive done in the past day or two the odds were about 50/50.

I never had any desire to fight this battle but I was very curious to hear CafePress explain to me why it was wrong.

There explanation is this, "we arent sure if this a copyright infringement but we are sure that we dont want to find out the hard way".

I can understand that and thats a way better excuse then the one I was expecting :)

There are of course no laws keeping me from posting the images or creating more "parody art"...
I just cant sell them on shirts.

Father Jack
Mar 12, 2008, 01:43 PM
There of course would have been no guarentee that I would have won and from the historical research Ive done in the past day or two the odds were about 50/50.

50/50 ..... I really don't think so ... :o

freeny
Mar 12, 2008, 02:38 PM
Edited. never mind

Tilpots
Mar 12, 2008, 06:44 PM
from publaw's parody page:

the fair-use defense if successful will only be successful when the newly created work that purports itself to be parody is a valid parody.


I'm not sure your image could really even be considered a parody. It makes no point. It does not satirize or imitate. A comic could get away with something similar, only if the artist explained the splat.

I understand why you're upset and want to protect your free speech, but make sure that you have a leg to stand on before you stand up for yourself.

fridgeymonster3
Mar 12, 2008, 06:55 PM
what if you changed the color scheme, maybe added a finger or something. Maybe than it would not appear so much as Mickey Mouse. Or maybe rearrange the placement of the objects.

On a side note, I'm not sure it even is a copyright infringement; however, as you and others have mentioned, it would be futile and too much of a hassle to absolve this matter legally.

freeny
Mar 12, 2008, 08:04 PM
from publaw's parody page:

the fair-use defense if successful will only be successful when the newly created work that purports itself to be parody is a valid parody.


I'm not sure your image could really even be considered a parody. It makes no point. It does not satirize or imitate. A comic could get away with something similar, only if the artist explained the splat.

I understand why you're upset and want to protect your free speech, but make sure that you have a leg to stand on before you stand up for yourself.

Its really not a big deal. I was upset at first but have since calmed down and moved on.

Tilpots
Mar 12, 2008, 09:07 PM
Its really not a big deal. I was upset at first but have since calmed down and moved on.

Glad to hear it. From your image, it seems you have a good imagination. Who knows maybe one day you'll get to sue somebody for copyright/trademark infringement!:p

ArtandStructure
Mar 12, 2008, 11:07 PM
Aside from other factors in determining fair use, I don't think the image really constitutes parody.

Parody is more imitative in nature. For instance, parodies of the Mona Lisa involve some person/figure/character sitting in the Mona Lisa pose, usually with the Mona Lisa background and clothing.

In the case of the image in question, there is no visual link to a recognized image of Mickey Mouse. Instead it is a new work using a trademark and possibly the copyrighted "design" of Mickey Mouse. I don't think it would hold up under scrutiny for parody.

Take care,

Jesse Widener

Art and Structure
www.artandstructure.com

freeny
Mar 13, 2008, 09:12 AM
Glad to hear it. From your image, it seems you have a good imagination. Who knows maybe one day you'll get to sue somebody for copyright/trademark infringement!:p
Thanks :)