If I’m a artistic painter who has created numerous paintings involving sports figures and other popular public icons, can sell these without infringing copyrights?

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If I’m a artistic painter who has created numerous paintings involving sports figures and other popular public icons, can sell these without infringing copyrights?

I have created many paintings over the years involving sports figures and other popular public icons. I was curious if I can sell these without worry of copyright infringement. Most of the paintings include a logo (Buffalo Bills, Boston Celtics, etc.) but I always make sure to manipulate the logo using wrinkles in the uniform, only half the helmet showing…you get the idea. So the full, original logo is never directly used. I would just like some clarification on the uses of logos in artwork.

Asked on July 18, 2014 under Business Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, if the logo is at all recognizable, you have probably violated trademark and possibly also copyright.

Trademark: the purpose of a logo is to identify the source; therefore, if it is identifiable, even if only partial, almost by definition that is to use (and therefore in this context violate) the trademark.

Copyright: only the copyright holder has the right to adapt, modify, or create derivative works from the copyrighted material; and a truncated,cut off, etc. logo would be an adaptation of it.

Logos would often be subject to both trademark and copyright.


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