Spanish Fork, UT asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for Utah

Q: If I personally draw a silhouette of a character from a movie and put it on a tshirt to sell it, can i be sued?

I am looking to make a clothing item based on an idea from an animated movie but do not want to be sued for copyright infringement. All designs are personally hand-drawn by me but are based on characters from the movie. There are no details in the drawings, just silouettes.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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A: If you create and sell clothing featuring silhouettes of characters from an animated movie, you could potentially face copyright infringement issues. Copyright law protects original works of authorship, including characters from movies. Even if you've hand-drawn these silhouettes without including specific details, they might still be recognized as representations of copyrighted characters.

It's essential to understand that copyright does not only apply to exact replicas or detailed portrayals; it can also cover distinctive and recognizable aspects of a character, including their outline or silhouette if it is identifiable. Selling products that feature these elements without permission could lead to legal complications, as it may be considered unauthorized use of copyrighted material.

Before proceeding with your clothing line, you may want to consider seeking legal advice or obtaining permission from the copyright holder. Alternatively, creating original designs that are not directly based on copyrighted characters can be a safer approach. This way, you can express your creativity without infringing on others' rights.

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