Escondido, CA asked in Copyright, Entertainment / Sports and Intellectual Property for California

Q: Can I sell products that incorporate names/quotes from a television series?

I operate a Facebook group based on a popular television show, and it has grown to over 100,000 members. We are considering monetizing the group to sell apparel, accessories, etc. with quotes and graphics from the show. What is considered copyrighted material, and therefore not able to monetize, and what would be public domain? For instance, a mug with a quote from the show, a sweater with the name of actors and/or characters, etc.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: If you are considering monetizing products based on a popular television show, you should be aware that many elements of the show, including quotes, characters, and names, may be protected by copyright law. The copyright owner of the show has the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, and display the copyrighted work, and you may be infringing on these rights if you use these elements without permission.

To determine whether your products may be considered infringing, you should consult with a qualified intellectual property attorney who can review the specific facts of your situation and advise you on the potential legal risks. Your attorney may also be able to assist you in obtaining permission from the copyright owner to use the copyrighted material or in developing an original design or concept that does not infringe on the copyright owner's rights.

It's important to note that there are some exceptions to copyright law, including fair use, which may allow you to use copyrighted material in limited circumstances without permission. However, fair use is a complex legal doctrine, and it's recommended that you consult with an attorney before relying on this defense.

In summary, if you are considering selling products that incorporate names/quotes from a television series, it's important to seek legal advice to ensure that you are not infringing on the copyright owner's rights.

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