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Lesson Plans

Re: copy rights (long!)

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Betty Bowen (
Tue, 23 Feb 1999 15:14:04 -0600

It is common practice for celebrities to assign legal rights to the use of
their name and image for licensing purposes. It is a quality control issue
as well as a financial one.
The artist you mention should have been sophisticated enough to have asked
Tiger Woods' permission to sell his image.

Copyrights are such big business that now there are "licensing fairs", like
a trade fair, but where you buy licensing rights to produce products with
images from Curious George, Madeline, Hanna Barberra, etc.

Artists who produce mainly for reproductions have created a lot of these
changes in artist's rights. Bev Doolittle, for example. As a framer, I could
sell a customer a Bev Doolittle calendar. They could tear out a page of it
and bring it back for me to frame for them. That's fine. However, I could
not buy a Bev Doolittle calendar, tear out the pages, frame and sell them.
That would be copyright infringement, because she also sells reproductions
(at a much higher price) for the purpose of framing resale.
The offset printing process is the same for all of it. Posters, greeting
cards, calendars, and "limited edition" stuff are often even laid out on the
same sheet of paper (I don't refer necessarily to Doolittle) - if there's a
bit of space on the edge they'll make bookmarks! The difference is the
"intent" of use. (for real quality-control manufacturers like Doolittle,
there is also a difference in paper choices, but that's rare) If I as a
retailer bought greeting cards, I could only sell them as greeting cards,
any other use was copyright infringement. But some disreputable shops even
cut images out of framing magazines and sell them, so now many "art" ads &
wholesale catalogs have words superimposed across the images. Even then, one
framing magazine showed how a framer had cleverly cut the mat to cover those
words. If you've ever seen one of your pieces of art on somebody's T shirt
you didn't get paid for, you'll know the feeling (I've been there!). It must
be the same for someone like Tiger Woods, finding his image on products he
didn't approve, but at least he can afford a lawyer.

Gilbert & Sullivan had the same problems in their day. HMS Pinafore was so
"piratized" by theatres in America that they came over from London to write
and produce an operetta themselves so they'd be here to control it. They
wrote, you guessed it, "Pirates of Penzance" but they intentionally misled
the press (and therefore their own "pirates") into thinking it was about
robbers falling love with the daughters of the man who owned the home they
were burgling (close, but no cigar!).