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Suppose I operate a T-Shirt print shop at a mall. Customers can come in and buy one of the displayed T-Shirts or they can go to my website, upload a photo and come to the store to pick up a T-Shirt with the photo printed on.

Am I required to ensure that the photo they uploaded does not contain copyrighted or trademarked material or is that responsibility left up to the client?

For example, if the client uploads a football team logo, can I print it onto a T-Shirt or do I need to first research the logo and ensure the client has rights to it?

(For the sake of this case, we are talking about small numbers of T-Shirts. Most orders are for 1-5 shirts.)

  • While an IP check requirement is not something I am sure of, you can sidestep the issue entirely, by making the customer state that they have all responsibility for any IP checks and that you disavow any involvement of IP breaches. – Nij Apr 2 '17 at 6:12
  • Isn't that what Mega Upload did (I.e. make users check a box that the content isn't copyright material) yet they still were shut down ... – CodyBugstein Apr 2 '17 at 6:50
  • MU had a lot of other problems, like active copyright violation. – Nij Apr 2 '17 at 7:18
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If you copy copyright materials then you are liable; the fact that someone asked you to do it is irrelevant. Just like if I were to rob a bank I cannot defend myself by saying I was asked to do it by someone else.

You can defend yourself by having processes and procedures that ensure you satisfy yourself as far as reasonably practicable that the material is neither copyright nor trade mark. Asking the customer is a start but it is not enough. Sit down with your lawyer and work out solid procedures that will protect you.

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