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This is by far the number one question I get since creating my very first DIY Mickey Ear video for Youtube. I have done my research but REMEMBER, I am not a lawyer so PLEASE feel free to research further if you think you might be infringing. (notice I mentioned I used to sell these but now I don't)
I am going to cover A LOT, so grab a coffee and get comfy. Also bring your thinking hat because this is gonna be thought provoking.
ALSO STAY TIL THE END BECAUSE I HAVE A FANTASTIC LOOP HOLE WITH AND AWESOME ANNOUNCEMENT!
"PEOPLE SELL DISNEY INSPIRED STUFF ALL THE TIME"
Yes, they do, but that doesn't make it right. LOT'S of Etsy stores and online businesses have been sent cease and desist letters from companies they have infringed on. Company's other then Disney are more strict on this but as soon as they do you run the risk of getting your store completely removed from Etsy.
STOP IT! I know this stuff is cute, but buying it is illegal too. If you really want it, make it for personal use :)
"IT'S HANDMADE SO IT'S NOT INFRINGING"
NOPE. Doesn't matter, if you are using a Disney image that you did not create. (And by create, I mean come up with the character because even hand drawn items can't be sold) Then you are infringing.
"DISNEY NOT INSPIRED"
Inspired is NOT COPYING. If you have Belle all over your "inspired" item, you are not being inspired, you are copying. Here are a couple examples. Using a color scheme is not infringing, and making references to what the character loves or does is not infringing. Making the characters face, or anything else that came from someone besides you, is infringing. This can be a fine line so just be careful.
HERE ARE EXAMPLES OF GOOD, Grey AND BAD
GOOD: Magic Wonders Boutique: Using statements but not quotes, with similar colors but no fonts of images from Disney. She even uses a licensed Disney character BY DISNEY to show that they compliment actual Disney property, but isn't selling Disney infringing items.
This store is using classic Characters to depict movies Disney has recreated. It isn't using Disney images but just some words that Disney uses but doesn't have copyright protection over.
BAD: This is bad for a few reasons. It is using Disney Font, Mickey ears and Disney Characters. Even though it was designed by the creator of it, it is copying Disney completely.
I would say this is okay because even though it is mimicking Disney font, it isn't EXACTLY Disney font. BUT It's a bit questionable. Super cute idea though.
These are made using Disney Buttons. They are licensed Disney buttons BUT I would make sure there is no where on the packaging that states for personal use only.
Even Google has infringing items for sale. 1 of these is okay. Can you pick which one? I will give you a hint, polka dots are not owned by Disney.
"DISNEY IS TOO BIG TO CARE"
Yeah they are big. So if they want to care, you should care that they can care whenever they want to care. Disney is a sleeping giant that could grind your bones to make their bread.
"If I gather Images from google, and charge for MY TIME"
NOPE! Don't. PLEASE don't. I see Etsy stores doing this ALL THE TIME. with some fancy wording like. "I am not claiming to create these items, and hold no rights to the characters expressed in this listing blah blah blah...." DON'T DO IT.
This is one I struggle with because why would you make something so enticing to do something with, however the fabric states right on it, that it is for pers