Legal question

Hi everyone,

I was wondering how copyright with celebrities online works? For example if I wanted to buy Michaeljackson.com I am allowed to? And if I wanted to sell Michael Jackson souvenirs on the website i am allowed to?

thanks,

At least in many states in the U.S., even if you took a photograph of a celebrity yourself or drew your own picture of a celebrity, you cold not sell the photo or drawing on a mug. That would violate the celebrity’s right of publicity. For example, someone cannot draw of picture of Elvis Presley and put it on a mug without licensing the use of the image from the Presley estate.

Ok that’s what i thought even do it doesn’t seem fair with the domain , I have also asked around about pictures and what i heard was for example: I can take a picture of a celebrity and put on a mug and then sell it. I can also make a drawing of a celebrity and put on a mug and then sell it. Is this true or is this on the borderline of being legal?

Thanks Green Moon for the help!

Well the simple case in point would be not to buy any name which is associated with a well known personality… why? Because it’s well established that once someone becomes a celebrity or influential figure their reputation and / or talent often becomes their brand and business, therefore trademark or not, it could be reasonably established that you are trying to make income as a direct result of their career or name, and there’s all sorts of legal grey areas you could wind up being caught in. :slight_smile:

Trademark owners have a legal right to protect their brand identities, there is a law in effect called the anti-cybersquatting act which effectively states that buying a domain associated with a brand or mark to deliberately benefit from the brand you don’t own is a criminal offence. In regards to trademark law, it’s stated very clearly under the policies set out by the likes of ICANN that it’s your legal responsibility to ensure you have the right to own a domain before you go and buy it, taking a name which belongs to someone else (by trademark) even if they haven’t registered it still qualifies as theft, you have stolen their intellectual property (rather than physical goods) and they can quite easily take legal action against you not only for damaging their brand, potential loss of business, trademark violations or even fraud (if the case fits), you could face jail time, serious legal costs and / or compensation claims and may be forced to hand over the domain name. :slight_smile:

With quotes there is a principle for fair use, you “should” be fine as it’s only a small proportion of the finished piece.
However commercially gaining from it could again rise up potential claims against you for plagurism.

alex, Let’s say I buy andymurray.com how do I know if he is a trademark or not? And what if i got the website before he became a trademark? And is it it illegal to sell mugs on andymurray.com with tennis themes?

Sorry a lot of questions in my head=)

thanks for the great advices and help as always!

I see, I wonder if that’s the case everywhere because my impression where that drawings are allowed as long as their not copies from a picture or other published image .

That is not really a copyright issue (unless, for example, you are dealing with copyrighted images). Instead, your use would be covered by a number of other laws, such as trademark law and the so-called “rights of publicity”.

In the example you gave, not only is it likely that you would lose the rights to any URL that you might purchase containing the name Michael Jackson (which is a registered trademark), you would also be liable for selling any Michael Jackson souvenirs unless they were produced and sold under proper licensing agreements.

They don’t have to buy it from you. They don’t automatically own it, either. They would presumably file a WIPO action against to to force you to transfer the name.

Putting quotes from a song or movie on mugs would be a copyright violation (assuming that you are talking about a copyrighted work and not some very old movie or song that may have fallen into the public domain).

I see, but lets say I owned michaeljackson dot com would they have to buy the domain name from me or does it automatically belong the ones who owns the trademark?

And how does it work with quotes, from a song or movie on mugs? Is that illegal as well?

Thanks for all help,