Copyright Basics for Custom Printed T-Shirts

Copyright Basics for Custom Printed T-Shirts

Copyright Basics for Custom Printed T-Shirts

In a dream world, we could print whatever design we want on our T-shirts. But we must follow copyright laws that apply to all intellectual property, including T-shirt designs. 

Copyright laws can be challenging to understand. It’s often hard to track someone down for copyright infringement. Implementing copyright is sometimes tricky because enforcement is usually solely based on the artist’s desire to pursue a case.

Here are the copyright basics for custom printed T-shirts and some tips for printing the perfect, legal designs. 

A Brief Rundown Summary of Copyright Laws

Before designing your T-shirt, you need to understand the copyright laws and what they protect. 

Copyright protects all original works by an author, including “now known or later developed” ideas. Works that can be copyrighted include:

  • Literary works
  • Musical works
  • Choreographic works
  • Films and audiovisuals
  • Architectural works
  • Sound recordings
  • Dramatic works
  • Graphic, photographic, or sculptural works

Copyright laws clarify that a “procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, discovery, principle, or idea” involved in creating the work is not protected by the law. You can follow the same steps as the artists. However, you cannot use their finished product. 

What’s the Public Domain?

The public domain contains all creative material no longer protected under any copyright laws and can be used without permission. Copyrighted work enters the public domain 70 years after the author’s death. All images, slogans, graphics, or quotes in the public domain are usable for your custom T-shirt design without committing copyright infringement. 

Resources You Cannot Use Without Permission

You have to make sure you do not use copyrighted materials when you design a T-shirt. These materials include:

  • Logos
  • Pictures or artwork of sports teams, games, bands, schools and universities, organizations, clubs, movies, and books
  • Characters from movies, books, comics, and TV shows
  • Viral content (memes or YouTube videos)
  • Images on search engines that are not listed for commercial use
  • Trademark companies and their logos, names, and content

Work you can use without being sued include:

  • Flags
  • National symbols
  • Coats of arms
  • Work in the public domain

How To Check if the Material Is Copyrighted

You should always check if the material you want to use is copyrighted. The image is copyrighted if you see the copyright symbol (©) with fine print near the bottom. If you see a watermark, you should avoid using the material because it is copyrighted. 

If you need to use particular images, such as a celebrity’s face or a meme, for your T-shirt, you need to find out who has the rights to the image and contact them about proceeding with your T-shirt design. You can also use free stock images without racking licensing fees. 

When you create a T-shirt or run a T-shirt company, it’s best to understand the copyright basics for custom printed T-shirts. Always double-check your designs to ensure that they’re not copyrighted to prevent unpleasant legal issues. 

Check out PrimepickUSA for all your custom t-shirt printing needs! Whether you’re printing for your business or family trip, PrimepickUSA ensures to provide high-quality and unique t-shirts. 

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