QuestionsCategory: legalDo I need licensing for using non copyrighted stuff?
shaista shams asked 4 years ago

Hello! I have a print and media company and we customize t-shirts, caps, coffee mugs and other stuff… I wanted to start taking up orders from a celebrity’s fandom for selling customized merchandise online. I will not be using the celeb’s photos, official fonts or logos but just use his song lyrics and simple words or phrases that might refer to him. I won’t even be printing his name, just some “Proud to be a fan” type of quotes and lines from his songs. Will I still need to worry about copyright claims?
Plus, if I do need to ask permission, or get a license, how do I go about contacting his management? Who would be the correct person to get in touch with?

1 Answers
Facebook Profile photoJon Kruse answered 3 years ago

I did some research and found this article

How to Use Lyrics Without Paying a Fortune or a Lawyer

Lyrics are intellectual property, like text and images. If you use someone’s property without permission, whether it’s a car, a bicycle, or the words to a popular tune, you are violating their property rights.
Using lyrics is particularly risky, not because they are special in the eyes of the law, but because they are owned by music companies that aggressively protect their rights. You could get a lawyer letter demanding you “cease and desist” using the lyrics. 

They did say that there were alternatives you can use

Use the song title and artist’s name only.
Titles and names are not protected by copyright, so you may use them without permission except as part of your own book title or on your book cover. That raises trademark and publicity problems.

I am not a copyright lawyer, and I would suggest doing more research on the topic.