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  1. #1
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    Default Trademark/Copyright

    I understand that people on here aren't lawyers. I was just curious if anyone had any ideas. I was browsing around on Etsy where there are a lot of homemade Disney items. How do people make and sell things that are obviously Disney (like autograph books with the actual characters on them, scrapbook papers with characters, corkboard cut out in the shape of the castle or characters to put your pins in, etc) without breaking any copyright/trademark laws?
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  4. #2
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    I too was curious and came upon this (gotta love google). Seems like you can legally use those characters that are no longer under copyright. Strange to me that Disney would just let it go without follow-up to keep them.

    There are those sellers that go to the gray side but if no one reports them I guess they can get it away with it.
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  5. #3
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    I had researched the copyright laws prior to posting here. It said they were good for 70 years after the person's death. I'm not sure any Disney stuff has lasted that long.
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  7. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cinderelley View Post
    I had researched the copyright laws prior to posting here. It said they were good for 70 years after the person's death. I'm not sure any Disney stuff has lasted that long.
    Pretty sure Disney had exemptions passed related to this.

    https://newswire.net/newsroom/news/0...nd-disney.html

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyri..._Extension_Act

    I'm certain a lot of the stuff on Etsy actually DOES violate copyright law - just as there is plenty of it that would fall under the public domain.
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  9. #5
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    They don't get away with it for long. Disney enforces their trademarks and copyrights. You actually have to enforce them consistently because if you let it slide and then start cherry picking, their lawyers will claim a laches defense and an implied license to continue. There are some things that are so old that they may have fallen out of protection but as John pointed out, Disney has gone to court to renew copyright and trademarks and won so the age doesn't really matter that much but instead whether or not they are still actively enforcing them. Basically, when it comes to copyrights and trademarks, if you snooze you lose so they stay on top of them. I'm not a lawyer but I own my own businesses with trademarks and I took some business law classes in which trademark and copyrights were covered.

    They may get away with selling a few but if they continue listing them, at some point they will receive a cease and desist letter from Disney's attorneys. At that point, if they continue, it won't be long they will be sued for copyright or trademark infringement.

    I know most University athletic departments enforce theirs as well. Back a few years ago, corn hole boards with school logos on them became very popular. I know someone that was making them with University of Alabama script A or crimson tide or the elephant on them and posting them for sale on Craigslist and after about two months, he was served with a Cease and Desist Order. He ceased and desisted. lol

    So long story short, if you are considering making similar items and selling them.....DON'T. lol

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  11. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1DisneyNut View Post
    They don't get away with it for long. Disney enforces their trademarks and copyrights. You actually have to enforce them consistently because if you let it slide and then start cherry picking, their lawyers will claim a laches defense and an implied license to continue. There are some things that are so old that they may have fallen out of protection but as John pointed out, Disney has gone to court to renew copyright and trademarks and won so the age doesn't really matter that much but instead whether or not they are still actively enforcing them. Basically, when it comes to copyrights and trademarks, if you snooze you lose so they stay on top of them. I'm not a lawyer but I own my own businesses with trademarks and I took some business law classes in which trademark and copyrights were covered.

    They may get away with selling a few but if they continue listing them, at some point they will receive a cease and desist letter from Disney's attorneys. At that point, if they continue, it won't be long they will be sued for copyright or trademark infringement.

    I know most University athletic departments enforce theirs as well. Back a few years ago, corn hole boards with school logos on them became very popular. I know someone that was making them with University of Alabama script A or crimson tide or the elephant on them and posting them for sale on Craigslist and after about two months, he was served with a Cease and Desist Order. He ceased and desisted. lol

    So long story short, if you are considering making similar items and selling them.....DON'T. lol
    Well, I am not talented enough to make things myself, so that isn't something I would be doing. I wish I was more artistic though. I wonder if they get permission from Disney to do it somehow. Maybe pay a fee to use the likenesses.
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  12. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cinderelley View Post
    Well, I am not talented enough to make things myself, so that isn't something I would be doing. I wish I was more artistic though. I wonder if they get permission from Disney to do it somehow. Maybe pay a fee to use the likenesses.
    I bet its more like gambling you won't get caught. A lot of those things have variations, and are borderline.
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  14. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cinderelley View Post
    Well, I am not talented enough to make things myself, so that isn't something I would be doing. I wish I was more artistic though. I wonder if they get permission from Disney to do it somehow. Maybe pay a fee to use the likenesses.
    I doubt it. They would have to request a license from Disney and have to sign a contract. You would really need an attorney to review the license and contract so there would be legal fees. Considering how little profit they make off these little homemade things, I doubt people are putting them time, effort and money to get a license.

    Quote Originally Posted by texas211 View Post
    I bet its more like gambling you won't get caught. A lot of those things have variations, and are borderline.
    Most likely this is the case. Some simply do not understand the business aspect and do not realize you can't just start making and selling items with other companies images or logos or whatever on them. Some know but think they can get away with just doing it a little because they think they are invisible with so much other stuff out there. What they don't realize is these big corporations like Disney have people whose job is to specifically look for these things. They have software that scours all the sale sites and auctions so they are pretty efficient at finding them.

  15. #9
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    Lots of these companies do in fact violate Disney's copyrights and trademarks all the time, but as mentioned, they play the 'probably won't get caught' game. You see it all over the country too with these companies that offer characters for birthday parties and such. It's not officially 'Queen Elsa' on the website of the company offering it, instead it's the 'Ice Queen' or something similar. They're still violating Disney's intellectual property and once they show up at the child's party you know that character refers to herself as Elsa, but it keeps them from popping up on Disney's radar at least for awhile. Disney does enforce these things but it's a complete whack-a-mole situation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by texas211 View Post
    I bet its more like gambling you won't get caught. A lot of those things have variations, and are borderline.
    I think this may very well be the case. I have seen so many posts, on a facebook Disney Passholder page since the Passholder Magnets have come out, with 'knock-off' magnets with different Disney characters -- anything from Oswald to Buzz to Tiggr and/or Pooh Bear -- flagrantly marked as Passholder magnets. I am really surprised that 'the big "D"' has not stepped in. Lots of money changing hands and "D" is not getting any of it.

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  17. #11
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    Disney is too vast to worry over every little maker of an illegitimate product. If the seller gets big enough to hit their radar then Disney will afford their attorneys to act upon the infringement. Otherwise, it is like has been mentioned, it is not illegal until they get "caught" ....
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  18. #12
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    Yeah, just ask Nike, golf manufacturers, etc. Hard to get them all. Especially if they are overseas. Its like pirated music/movies.
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