Handcrafted crafts vs copyrights?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Handcrafted crafts vs copyrights?

I’m starting to make crafts to sell off various websites like facebook marketplace. Getting ready to do my first craft fair. If there is no trade mark, and I cannot trace who the artist is am I aloud to print off the image to use in my crafts. I once heard as long as its not mass produced your able to use character images as long as you give credit to those companies.For example, if I were to print up or draw a photo of Mickey Mouse to use in a craft I can name it Mickey inspired keychain. Or Disney princess inspired magnet. When it comes to school mascots or logos, sports teams, cartoon characters, are all the laws the same? What if its a free image clipart online like some paint splatter or something someone didn’t watermark. Obviously as an artist I would try and track down and get permission as a sign of respect but what if I can’t track where the art came from I appreciate your time on helping me out with all these questions. I tried to look them up but the answers were written in a way I couldn’t comprehend.

Asked on August 12, 2018 under Business Law, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You are wrong: the law of trademark and copyright does not have anything to do with handcrafted vs. mass produced: you an no more legally create a single handcrafted copy of a copyrighted or trademarked image or character (or an adaptation of a character, like making, in your example, a Disney-princess-inspired magnet). If something is trademarked and/or copyrighted--and any known character, etc. will be--only the rights owner may reproduce, adapt, sell, etc. it.
Also do not conflate trademark and copyright on the hand with plagarism on the other; giving credit does not make a use of a copyrighted or trademarked image or character legal.
The laws are the same about any trademarked, etc. character, symbol, graphic, etc., so those for mascots, cartoon characters, logos, etc.
The only images created by others which you can safely use are those which have been deliberately made available for use by others.

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