I read the Q&A for "Can I make fan merchandise and sell it?", but I didn't see anywhere something about personal use. I was looking at merchandise for my favorite group, but it was so expensive. Could I make my own (not selling it) and not get sued/fined/etc.? It'd have their logo and name.

2 Answers 2


The band's logo can be protected by both copyright and trademark. The band's name is probably only protected as a trademark.

Trademark would not apply to your personal use, because to infringe a trademark, you need to "use" the mark, and "use" in trademark law generally means selling an item that has the mark on it. As far as trademark law is concerned, no sale means no infringement.

Copyright protects the exclusive right of the owner to copy a "work" (it's much more complex than that, but we don't need to get into the details here).

Copyright probably applies because you would "copy" the logo, which under copyright law is something only the copyright owner can do (absent authorization from the copyright owner). You would therefore theoretically be infringing copyright by copying the bands logo on a shirt or something you want to wear yourself.

That said, while I agree with the first answer that fair use may apply in theory, there would never ever be such a complex discussion about fair use in this case... because in fact there's absolutely no chance an individual would get fined or sued for having copied a band's logo and name on something he/she wants to wear his/herself.

  1. Getting sued by the band

The band will not notice. If you're lucky enough to meet the band (or somebody close to the band) in person while you are wearing your garment, they would either not notice or not care. At worst, they'll ask you where you bought it in case they suspect you bought it from someone who illegally sells fake merch. Even then, all of this seems very unlikely.

If you are extremely unlikely and the band notices it and sues you (and finds a lawyer to take a case like that to court), my inclination is to think the judge would be extremely mad with the band (and its lawyer) for losing the court's time with such a trivial matter. No judge would allow lawyers to waste the court's time pleading such a complex thing as fair use in a case like that.

  1. Getting fined

The police would not notice either, because the only time the police cares about copyright is when somebody makes a complaint (nobody would make a complaint about you), except when they seize containers full of copyright infringing stuff (that is destined to be illegally sold for profit) in a port or at a border somewhere.

The only possible scenario where I could imagine that there would be legal consequences is if you wear a t-shirt with the bands logo in a YouTube video (or in a picture) where the only thing that you see basically is the bands logo on your t-shirt. Even this scenario is extremely far fetched, but let's say the video becomes popular and the band notices. Well, the likeliest scenario is that they would file a DMCA notice and get YouTube to take down the video, with very little chances that there would be more important consequences to you.

Have fun!


Presumably the thing that you're copying, e.g. a Yoda-Kzinti hydrid puppet (the underlying elements are protected), is something protected by copyright. That is generally prohibited, but there is the fair use exception. This involves "balancing" 4 factors: purpose, nature, amount and effect. If the item is your own mash-up, effect on market is favorable to fair use. Not selling the item is also on the fair use side of the scale. However: these are defenses, meaning that when you get sued, your attorney can argue that it's fair use, and if the jury accepts the argument, then you won't get hit with a big judgment. Since the law only say that these factors are to be balanced and there are no instructions about how that is done, one would need to retain an attorney to get a professional evaluation of the most likely outcome in a particular case, if you really want to know. It often has to do with the past litigation behavior of the rights holder.

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