Copyright is a word which we usually hear about but unfortunately many of the designers and business owners are uninformed about how significant it is for any business.
Designing and selling online, where widened the scope for every business beyond the horizon, it also has heightened the probability of copyright issues to a great extent.
Let’s start from the beginning, and understand:
What is a copyright?
Imagine you walked into an apparel shop and while wandering through the aisles of the store your eyes caught an amazingly designed t-shirt. But what! You are loving this t shirt because it has an artwork which you designed six months back for a customer online! Don’t you think that your created artwork was totally your property reserved for you and someone else should not have used it without your permission. Here come the copyright laws. Got an idea??
According to the UK Intellectual Property Office, copyright is “a type of intellectual property that protects original works of authorship, such as literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works”.
This means that if you create a t-shirt design that is original and shows your own skill, labour and judgement, you have the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, display and sell it. You also have the right to prevent others from copying, adapting, performing or putting your design online without your permission.
Usually, the creator is the copyright holder, but sometimes the rights can be transferred to another person or entity. The main purpose of copyright is to encourage the creation of art and culture by rewarding authors and artists with a set of exclusive rights.
Copyrighted works may include:
- movies and other dramatic works,
- sculptural works
- software, and more.
The law only protects the final work of an artist and not the “idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery” used to create it. So, you can use an artwork as an inspiration for your design and create something even better and inspiring of your own. You can use the same approach as an artist, but you can’t and should not copy their finished product.
What designs I can use – The Dos of T shirt Designing
When it comes to copyright laws one is supposed to have the knowledge of the Public Domain.
So, What is The Public Domain?
According to https://www.dacs.org.uk/ , “The phrase “public domain” refers to works that have effectively become public property and are no longer protected by copyright law. This occurs when the copyright in a work of art expires”.
Works in the public domain can be used without seeking anyone’s permission and without incurring a copyright fee.
Generally speaking, artworks fall out of copyright and enter the public domain in the UK 70 years after the death of the artist.
A work can enter the public domain for different reasons, such as being too old, being ineligible for protection, or being voluntarily dedicated by the author. For example, the works of William Shakespeare and Leonardo da Vinci are in the public domain because their copyright term has expired.
Having knowledge of the public domain now, you can freely use:
Royalty-free images that are for commercial use
There are many websites that offer free or low-cost images that you can use for your t-shirt designs, as long as you follow their terms and conditions. For example, you can check out Unsplash, Pixabay or Pexels for high-quality photos that are free to use for any purpose.
Public domain images
These are images that are no longer protected by copyright or have been donated to the public domain by their creators. You can use these images freely for your t-shirt designs without worrying about licences or permissions. For example, you can find public domain images on Wikimedia Commons, The British Library or The Public Domain Review.
Your original designs.
The best way to avoid legal problems is to create your own designs from scratch, using your own creativity and imagination. You can draw inspiration from other sources, but make sure your designs are unique and distinctive. You can also use tools like Canva or Adobe Illustrator to help you create professional-looking designs.
What Designs I should Avoid – The Don’t s of T shirt Designing
You should avoid using the following which are already property of the owner and are protected from unauthorized use. If you want to use them in your t shirt design, you need to get permission from the owner or buy a license from them.
- Don’t use logos of sports teams, schools and universities, organisations, clubs, movies, books, games and bands.
- Don’t use pictures or artwork of sports teams, schools and universities, organisations, clubs, movies, books, games and bands.
- Don’t use characters from movies, books, comics and television shows.
- Don’t use viral content like memes and YouTube content.
- Don’t use images found on search engines or any other image that is not listed for commercial use. These images may belong to someone else and may not be free to use for your t-shirt designs. If you want to use an image on your t-shirt design, you need to check its source and license before using it.
- Don’t use trademark companies and their logos, names and content. These companies have exclusive rights to their trademarks and may sue you for infringement.
- Don’t exploit celebrities in any way, even if you created original content. Celebrities have rights to their name, image and reputation and may sue you for defamation or invasion of privacy if you use them in a negative or misleading way on your t-shirt designs.
How to check if Something is Copyrighted
In order to avoid any future inconveniences one needs to be aware of the ways to check if a design is a copyrighted material.
- There is a tiny © symbol somewhere around the image or graphic or at bottom of the content.
- If there is a watermark, you should avoid using it.
- There is a note representing ownership sourcing in the content.
- Or you can visit the copyright office or browse through the copyright files if you are not sure about copyright of a particular design.
T-shirt designing can be a fun and rewarding activity, but you need to be careful about the legal aspects of it. By following the dos and don’ts of t-shirt designing, you can create original and legal t-shirt designs that will impress your customers and avoid any future legal troubles.
We at custommadetshirts have a whole team of designers to create unique designs and personalized items for you according to your requirements adhering to the copyright laws in London, UK