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Copy Right Material
I am opening up an online t shirt business where customers can choose designs provided to them or upload their own design. Since the customer have the option to upload their design, if it’s copy righted and I didn’t know will I get in trouble?
Asked on December 19, 2016 under Business Law, Illinois
SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney
Answered 4 years ago | Contributor
Yes, you could be sued: ignorance of the fact that something is copyrighted (or trademarked) is not a defense to infringement, though the consequences vary with your knowlege and intention: if you can prove that you infringed "innocently," it is likely that the only consequence to you, if the rights owner took legal action, would be an agreement or order that you don't infringe again plus possibly giving up the profit made on the infringement. You can provide some protection for yourself by having an agreement for customers to sign that that they "represent" (or promise) that the design is original and/or that they have the right to use it; and that if the design is found to infringe anyone else's intelletual property, that the customer will indemnify, or pay for, any costs, losses, or expenses you thereby incur. This will not help as much if the design is so well-known that anyone would logically or reasonably know it is infringement to reproduce it, like the logo for a pro sports team or well-known rock band--you could not in that case believably argue, even with this agreement, that your infringement was innocent.
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