Asked in Intellectual Property for Massachusetts

Q: Is recycling damaged books, comic books and manga into household items copyright infringement if they're sold?

Hi, I'm curious if I re-purpose damaged comic books, manga books and books in general into household use items and sell them if it is intellectual property and/or copyright infringement? Would this be considered fair use of the original item or transformative use of the items since I am taking only pieces of the original work that I purchased (albeit used) and transforming it into something new? Specifically if I do not reference the superhero/character and just generally market them as "book page" "Manga/Anime" or "Superhero" would this be infringement?

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2 Lawyer Answers

A: It sounds like you have done some homework on this issue, which is great! It could be a transformative use. However, it really depends on how much you change the original copyrighted work into a new work. As for your second question about marketing your products, that is a separate issue that gets into trademark more than copyright. Specifically referencing certain superhero character names, publishers, or utilizing logos may lead to potential trademark infringement or dilution concerns. What you really should consider getting is a freedom to operate opinion from a lawyer experienced in both copyright and trademark law. Good luck!

Ali Shahrestani,
Ali Shahrestani,
  • New York, NY
  • Licensed in Massachusetts

A: The key issues would be how creative your use is, how integral and important the copyrighted work is to your final product, and how recognizable the copyrighted work is after your product is fully created. You also want to make sure you're not using any trademarked names or logos in your ads. More details are necessary to provide a professional analysis of your issue. The best first step is an Initial Consultation with an Attorney such as myself. You can read more about me, my credentials, awards, honors, testimonials, and media appearances/ publications on my law practice website, I practice law in CA, NY, MA, WA, and DC in the following areas of law: Business & Contracts, Criminal Defense, Divorce & Child Custody, and Education Law. This answer does not constitute legal advice; make any predictions, guarantees, or warranties; or create any Attorney-Client relationship.

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