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View Chris Speights's profile

Copyright Question

by Chris Speights
posted 09-05-2012 05:24 PM

19 replies so far

View HorizontalMike's profile


6985 posts in 2156 days

#1 posted 09-05-2012 05:32 PM

If you recreate it as an original piece of art, then I think you will be fine. Your “recreation” will have unique flaws/characteristics that will be lacking in the copyrighted version. If you were to say, recreate a T-shirt Team Logo and put it on more T-shirts, then I think you would be in trouble. You would be violating the artistic “concept” of the creator and that would be the violation.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Chris Speights's profile

Chris Speights

126 posts in 1599 days

#2 posted 09-05-2012 05:38 PM

Okay, that makes sense. Since it is a wood burning, and I have never done it before, it will definitely have flaws…haha. Do you think selling it or not selling it is relevant, or believe the same things would apply?

View HorizontalMike's profile


6985 posts in 2156 days

#3 posted 09-05-2012 05:47 PM

Selling them? That may be an issue, after all isn’t that the big complaint about “counterfeit” goods in the first place? My gut feeling is don’t go into business selling copyrighted logos.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View jmos's profile


687 posts in 1611 days

#4 posted 09-05-2012 05:50 PM

Since you’re giving it as a gift, I don’t see how you would get into trouble (legal eagles out there please correct me if I’m wrong)

However, if you try to sell it, they could come after you, even with ‘flaws.’ If someone can confuse your logo with the real one, it’s covered by the copyright laws. And since they sell the rights to produce logo merchandise, they protect those rights pretty vigorously. There are some exceptions for artistic use, but I would think you would have to have a good lawyer to argue a box, or cutting board, or the like counts. Some conceptual painting regarding the Penn State controversy containing their logo would probably be covered, but a plain logo, I wouldn’t try it. Again, for profit, as a gift I think you’re good.

Again, I’m not a lawyer, so what do I know…

-- John

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 1528 days

#5 posted 09-05-2012 05:50 PM

Flaws or not, if it’s a depiction of an actual logo, AND if the logo is copyrighted, then you are violating copyright. Even if you only ever make 1 copy and even if you don’t sell it.
My wife is a school media specialist and as such is extremely up to date on copyright stuff. When I worked at the university and was doing some web site design, I also got REAL familiar with copyright issues.

Now…. is anyone actually going to call the copyright police on you for making a gift for a college sports fan?

Highly unlikely. :)

Enjoy and have fun.

View Enoelf's profile


192 posts in 1505 days

#6 posted 09-05-2012 05:54 PM

Technically speaking, any unauthorized reproduction of trademarked or copyrighted material is a violation of law. The fact that you are making an item to give as a gift would most likely not put you in hot water. However, the use of a trademarked or copyrighted image or images on an unlicensed product would eventually draw unwelcome attention and, unless you are planning on generating a great deal of revenue from your product line, would not be worth the fines and continuing license fees.

-- Central Ohio, Still got 9 and 15/16 fingers!

View Tennessee's profile


2364 posts in 1756 days

#7 posted 09-05-2012 07:51 PM

Charlie and Enoelf are dead on. I have to beat back people once in a while who want me to put copyrighted things on guitars. Just will NOT do it…

-- Paul, Tennessee,

View lumberjoe's profile


2888 posts in 1490 days

#8 posted 09-05-2012 08:09 PM

The official language of the law pertaining to your question:

Copyright infringement is determined without regard to the intent or the state of mind of the infringer; “innocent” infringement is infringement nonetheless

-- Unplugged Woodworkers -

View Chris Speights's profile

Chris Speights

126 posts in 1599 days

#9 posted 09-05-2012 08:12 PM

Great information, everyone. Thank you very much. The reason I asked about “selling” was because I have been asked by a few people that have seen this if I would make them one. Now I know I can tell them “no”...haha. Again, I really appreciate the information.



View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 1417 days

#10 posted 09-05-2012 08:32 PM

I do not think you’d be in trouble if you give it as a gift. However, selling which obtains profits would certainly amount to a copyright infringement.

View StuffMadeFromWood's profile


17 posts in 1339 days

#11 posted 09-05-2012 10:38 PM

I agree that no one would track you down for a gift. You could always drop a line to the appropriate institution and ask permission. Even selling them, you could pay a small per item fee with an arrangement ahead of time. My local institution told me I could have permission for limited quantities based on my previous support, plus a couple things for a fundraiser.

-- Russ, Wisconsin

View grosa's profile


979 posts in 2071 days

#12 posted 09-06-2012 06:59 AM

O yes you will. Trust me, been there done that. $5000 fine or jail depending on the state. I made it for ME! I didn’t sell it or give it away. A friend took a picture and put it on face book, That’s how they found out. You need to ask permission and pay for a license to do anything like that.

-- Have a great day.

View Knothead62's profile


2581 posts in 2203 days

#13 posted 09-06-2012 03:56 PM

My son named his dog using the name Remington as part of the registered name. He called Remington and they told him go ahead. True, not a logo but you could inquire as to using the logo. If you are told no, then consider putting daisies on it.

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

6586 posts in 1622 days

#14 posted 09-06-2012 05:03 PM

Just to flesh out a few things, whether selling or giving away makes no difference legally. Colleges licenses are very expensive and other businesses will turn you in in a heartbeat and trademark holders are legally obligated to protect their logos. Some colleges sell a special license for state residents, here it is called a “crafter license”. You have to submit a sample, pay a yearly fee, submit sales reports and there are some other hoops but it allows you to craft and sell things with the college logo.


View BinghamtonEd's profile


2199 posts in 1611 days

#15 posted 09-06-2012 06:18 PM

grosa, what did you make that got you in trouble?

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View Kelby's profile


134 posts in 1653 days

#16 posted 09-06-2012 10:19 PM

Most college logos don’t qualify for copyright protection at all.

Copyrights only protect “original works of authorship,” which is generally interpreted as entailing some significant creative element. Copyright protection is not available for something that may be cool but that does not entail a significant creative element, such as slogans, phrases, familiar symbols, or variations on the fonts and colors of letters.

Many (most?) college logos are nothing more than a couple letters in an interesting font with specific colors. These would probably not qualify for copyright protection at all because they do not meet the “authorship” requirement. There are some logos that have cute little drawings as part of them, and they might qualify for copyright protection, but specific letters in specific fonts and colors doesn’t get you there.

Instead, intellectual property protection for logos is typically in the form of a trademark.

The distinction is important for your question. The purpose of copyright law is to ensure artists get complete control over the reproduction and distribution of their creative efforts. The purpose of trademark law is to prevent someone from making a profit off someone else’s reputation by creating confusion about whose product you are buying. The reason this matters for your question is that, in the case of copyright, it doesn’t really matter whether you sell or give away the copyrighted item—once you reproduce or distribute it, you have infringed on the copyright. By contrast, trademark law only kicks in when you try to sell a product that contains the trademark. Giving it away, or making it for your own personal use, is generally OK.

-- Kelby

View grosa's profile


979 posts in 2071 days

#17 posted 09-11-2012 11:06 AM

A football team logo on a coffee table.

-- Have a great day.

View jmos's profile


687 posts in 1611 days

#18 posted 09-11-2012 11:51 AM

Thanks for the clarification Kelby, that actually makes sense! I think most of us here were conflating the two. Are you a lawyer?

-- John

View Kelby's profile


134 posts in 1653 days

#19 posted 09-11-2012 02:50 PM

John, yes, I’m an attorney. Happy to help.

-- Kelby

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