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Let's say someone makes a drawing of a drawing made on a popular TV show then puts it on a t shirt and sells it.. Is that violating copyright laws?

Let's say someone just puts the drawing made on a popular TV show on a t shirt.. Is that violating copyright laws?

To be clear, this can be rephrased as: is copying someone else's art and selling it is a copyright violation?

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    Just to be clear: You're asking whether copying someone else's art and selling it is a copyright violation?
    – bdb484
    Commented Apr 30 at 5:11
  • Are you wondering whether selling the T-shirt makes a difference regarding copyright violation? Not generally, although it could impact whether copying counts as fair use.
    – Barmar
    Commented Apr 30 at 21:43
  • "copying someone else's art" is practically the definition of a copyright violation.
    – Barmar
    Commented Apr 30 at 21:44
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is copying someone else's art and selling it is a copyright violation?

Usually. Most non-trivial drawings are protected by copyright law.

Some drawings are sufficiently basic that either they are no capable of being protected by copyright law, or are in the public domain because they've been used for a long time (e.g. the Jesus fish symbol has been in use since sometime in the 100s CE).

Let's say someone just puts the drawing made on a popular TV show on a t shirt.. Is that violating copyright laws

Usually, the person who makes the drawing is the author for copyright purposes and would violate copyright protections against copying.

Let's say someone makes a drawing of a drawing made on a popular TV show then puts it on a t shirt and sells it.. Is that violating copyright laws?

Usually, the person who makes the drawing is the author for copyright purposes and would violate copyright protections against creating derivative works.

I'm using "weasel words" like "most" and "usually" because the fact pattern given in the question is very thin and doesn't provide all of the facts relevant to the legal question presented. We know very little about the drawing or about how true the copy of the drawing is. A two year old's attempt to copy a drawing that is a realistic Presidential portrait made in 1990 is probably not true enough to constitute a derivative work, even if it was literally made from observations of that portrait. We also know very little about the context in which the underlying drawing appears. It the drawing is a federal highway sign or a scientific diagram or a painting from the 1500s, it might not be protected at all. If it is a portrait featured on a documentary about a local artist, it probably is protected by copyright law.

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  • And if the drawing is made from a Bob Ross "how to paint" thing, you might even have implied license if the Bob Ross picture has enough creativity to have a copyright.
    – Trish
    Commented May 2 at 8:20
  • "use for a long time" sounds like a trademark concept. The Jesus fish symbol is in the public domain with respect to copyright because it was created a long time ago. If someone discovered a novel symbol that was created 1900 years ago and hadn't been used since, it would also be in the public domain.
    – phoog
    Commented May 3 at 0:20
  • @phoog My intent was to not to say anything different from your comment.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented May 3 at 2:36
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If the show or image is copyrighted then it can not be used without permission.

If it is recreated, that would usually need permission, too.

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    – feetwet
    Commented May 2 at 14:47

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