Can I use photos of items purchased to make another product to sell for my business if it has a copyright but I use my own photo of it?

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Can I use photos of items purchased to make another product to sell for my business if it has a copyright but I use my own photo of it?

I recently opened a small home-run business and customize and personalize paper products for people. I have had some requests for things like Mickey Mouse or American Girl Dolls. I know they are copyrighted, but if I take a photo of some of my children’s toys, books, etc that I have paid for (just the image of these items) and place them in a calendar or on stationary, is this illegal?

Asked on February 10, 2012 under Business Law, Minnesota

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

No, that is not legal. Regardless of the mechanism you use to reproduce another's copyrighted or trademarked property--that is, whether you use a downloaded a file of the artwork which you obtained somehow, use a screen capture of a image from their website, take a photograph, or even reproduce it by drawing it by hand, it is still a violation of the intellectual property. What you describe has no ambiguity or shades of grey--it is illegal.

If you do this to aggressively litiguous companies, such as Disney, if they notice what you are doing, you can expect a significant lawsuit.


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