Asked in Copyright for California

Q: Do I need licensing for printing and selling t-shirts that have a celeb's name, a phrase related to him, or his lyrics?

I have a print and media company and we customize tshirts, caps, coffee mugs and other stuff... I wanted to start taking up orders from a celebrity's fandom for selling customized merchandise online. I will not be using the celeb's photos, official fonts or logos but just use his song lyrics and simple words or phrases that might refer to him. I won’t even be printing his name, just some “Proud to be a fan” type of quotes and lines from his songs. Will I still need to worry about copyright claims?

Plus, if I do need to ask permission, or get a license, how do I go about contacting his management? Who would be the correct person to get in touch with?

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1 Lawyer Answer
John Espinosa
John Espinosa
Answered
  • Lowell, MA

A: Yes, here is a helpful resource that addresses your question:

https://www.thelaw.com/law/are-song-titles-lyrics-protected-by-copyright-or-trademark-law.317/

As far as who to ask for a license to the rights, it would be the music publisher of the song.

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