QuestionsCategory: legalLegal Question About Fair Use For Licensing
Geekmeme asked 5 years ago

I am starting a Tshirt and apparel website that uses artists designs of comic book and video game related content. I read on your website that the licensing can really be a problem if not done correctly.
However, I have found many websites that have the same concept as my business that flat out say on their website that the Tshirt designs are “Fair Use” and they are not infringing the owner’s copyright because the artwork is a parody, satire, and social commentary.
Here is the example site and policy –

Do you have any advice on how they are able to continue doing business like this? Also, if you wanted to get licensing for shirts how would you go about doing so?

2 Answers
Facebook Profile photoJon Kruse answered 5 years ago

The work around is parody. You see this a ton on threadless and so many other sites like the example you had of teefury. It is considered fair use and legal.
If you want to get the license you need to contact the company that owns the license but it may be hard to get a license if you are just a small company. 

Geekmeme answered 5 years ago

Thanks Jon, I appreciate the advice and your website.
I have one more question that might be hard to answer, (probably going to need a lawyer) but what constitutes as a parody in the design? For example, if the design is of a character like Spiderman but he is drawn in an original different artistic style would that work?
Another example from Teefury would be this shirt that is of Darth vader –  what makes it a parody?

Facebook Profile photoJon Kruse replied 4 years ago

I would not consider spiderman in a different artistic style a parody.A parody (/ˈpærədi/; also called spoof, send-up, take-off or lampoon), in use, is a work created to imitate, make fun of, or comment on an original work, its subject, author, style, or some other target, by means of satiric or ironic imitation.So unless the artistic style was satiric or ironic in some way it wouldn’t count.I wouldnt consider the dark lineage shirt a parody, but they might have the rights to some things they do shirts of.