I'm having some serious hurdles to jump in my work, and can't find a clear answer besides talking to a specialist lawyer about it - can you create parodies inspired by already existing artwork? I have a bunch of ideas for my startup business selling decals, but I shudder at the thought of the cost of a lawyer for consultation, and I don't really know where to go with this question besides here, so here are my examples:

-stylized superhero logos -decals inspired by video games -stylized sports logos

I see all these things on P.O.D. sites all over the internet - Etsy, Shopify, Amazon, Ebay - but I know for a fact that these companies can't be licensing all of these products directly from the NFL, NHL, game studios, and Marvel or DC Comics. I don't even want to do their original artwork, I just wanna put my spin on it - I'm just too nervous to have Disney send a lawyer to my door to serve me for a lawsuit that will leave me LIVING IN A VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER!...Sorry couldn't resist Xd

Like I said, I just want to put my spin on their original works to adapt it to my style of artwork for my decals and print designs. Any thoughts or resources you guys could point me toward would be great! Thanks in advance!


Read I have a question about copyright. What should I read before I ask it?

Some of those sellers on eBay, Etsy, etc., have licensing agreements with the copyright holders to sell their products with the copyrighted artwork or derivatives - either serious artistic variations or parodies or satirical works - that are substantial enough to require copyright permissions.

Some sellers don't have agreements. Those who don't have agreements run the risk of being kicked off the service, due to a take down notice sent to the service or a violation of the TOS of the service; or worst case, being sued by the copyright holder, if the copyright holder views the usage as infringement or does not agree that the work is a parody or satire.

I just want to put my spin on their original works to adapt it to my style of artwork for my decals and print designs.

You need to decide if your work is derivative enough to infringe on copyright, or could be considered a parody, or risk being informed by a copyright holder than you are infringing by either a cease and desist letter or a lawsuit. If you don't want to or don't feel qualified to evaluate your work, then find legal representation to make a judgement call for you. If you get sued, the jury will make the decision as to whether you are infringing.

  • Even if it is copyright fair use, many of these things are trademarks and trademarks do not have a fair use harbour. Cover than and it’s a great answer. – Dale M Jan 23 '18 at 12:01
  • Thanks so much for the comments! Guess I gotta get a hold of Marvel and DC haha. – sybastian16 Jan 23 '18 at 16:23
  • dalem, true; trademarks are different animals than copyright. – BlueDogRanch Jan 23 '18 at 20:54

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