If I made a bunch of Winnie the Pooh stuffed animals or screen printed a bunch of t-shirts with pictures from Godzilla films or something, would I be infringing on copyrights/trademarks if I distributed them for free (or "sold" them for $0.00) over etsy or ebay.

Furthermore, assuming I would be legally safe to send free non-official merchandise out, would customer's shipping payments count as me "profiting" off of another brand's work, even the payment goes directly to shipping company itself?

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    The answer is basically "no", but we could give a more specific response if you told us which jurisdiction you are in. – Paul Johnson Nov 22 '18 at 8:32
  • Copyright law protects copying, derivative works (e.g. if you made your "own" creative Pooh doll, but it was based on the original copyrighted Winnie the Pooh work) and redistribution, not "selling". Even if you copy and redistribute something for free, that is an infringement. – Brandin Nov 22 '18 at 15:16
  • @Brandin In addition to copyright many of these kinds of things are covered by trademarks as well. – Paul Johnson Nov 25 '18 at 17:01
  • Perfectly good question, ignore the down votes! – Dan Rayson Nov 25 '18 at 20:05

This would be infringement. It generally doesn't matter that you're giving things away for free.

Keep in mind that the point of these laws is not only to prevent third parties from making money off the creator's ideas, but also to protect the creator's ability to make money. If you're providing free knock-off Winnie the Pooh products, that cuts into the market for the creator's legitimate products.

  • I believe that, in the US, infringement for commercial purposes is more serious than infringement for personal purposes. It's still illegal, but the penalties may be smaller if there's no commercial infringement (whatever the court finds that to be). – David Thornley Nov 26 '18 at 19:06

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