Your daughter is having a birthday party. She and her friends are in love with Disney’s Frozen. You search on line for party ideas, and the website, “Etsy” turns up with thousands of terrific, fun designs – for invitations, party favors, decorations, and more. For a few dollars, you can buy the rights to the designs. They even offer you a release form, to bring to the printer. Or so they would have you believe. Investigate further, and you will discover that they do not have authorization with Disney to be using their characters. Therefore, you didn’t buy the rights to the design, at all.
Perhaps they told you that, under the copyright laws, you can print them once, for personal use. This is not true. Copyright infringement is copyright infringement. If you want an invitation with a Disney theme (or any other copywritten character theme), you are going to have to request authorization to reproduce from the holder of the copyright. That would be Disney, not the designer who is pirating Disney images and selling them on Etsy, or any other website.
As printers, we are bound by copyright laws. We print for companies and individuals who hold copyrights on their work, and we appreciate the value of their hard work. Beyond that, there are hefty fines connected with printing copywritten materials. Fines that would be imposed on both you, the customer, and us, the printer.
Besides children’s cartoon characters, other images that require permission or authorization to print include: NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB insignia; collegiate logos; and graphic designs from the internet that are not public domain. Also, professional photographs. Even your hand-drawn reproduction of a well-recognized character or logo would be considered copyright infringement.
Requesting permission is easy, and can usually be done with a quick email sent to the copyright holder. When permission is granted, it must be in writing, and we keep a copy on file.
For more information on copyright infringement, please contact us. For alternative ideas, our graphics department is very creative, and can come up with ideas and designs that will be 100% yours!