Copyright Infringement: the Dos and Don'ts of Fair Use
In creating gear for ultimate we are lucky to work with a talented and creative community. When we brought sublimation to ultimate teams back in 2001, we helped start a new era for jersey design in our sport. Now, 15 years later, inspired designers are coming to us with incredibly creative and artistic works continually!
There is one catch, however: many teams come to us with amazing creative ideas that we unfortunately can't follow through with due to copyright law. It's very easy to see something you like and want it reproduced on your gear, but there are a lot of laws and policies in the way.
According to the Stanford University Libraries, Fair Use refers to, "any copying of copyrighted material done for a limited and “transformative” purpose, such as to comment upon, criticize, or parody a copyrighted work." Commentary or criticism most likely don't apply to ultimate designs, but often teams like to parody other works. Keep in mind that the key word is "transformative" - it's not enough to just change the color or rearrange some elements, it needs to be transformed into a new work of art.
To make it easier on you, we've compiled a list of Dos and Don'ts when navigating the tricky waters of copyright law:
- Do send us examples of art and images that you like. Our graphic designers will not be able to copy it for your gear but they can use it as a starting point to get an idea of what you're looking for. Hopefully they can capture the essence of the works and create something new for you!
- Do reach out to artists and institutions for permission. Emerging artists especially may be willing to give you written permission for use of a work of art, or a company may appreciate the free publicity from using their logo. A written copyright release is necessary!
- Do make use of the Public Domain- works whose exclusive intellectual property rights have expired, have been forfeited, or are inapplicable. It may take some research, but one great resource is the National Gallery of Art which offers free downloads of art in the public domain.
- Don't assume that just because it seems free, it is. Examples of copyrighted material include cartoon characters, corporate logos, school mascots, college names (i.e. "University of Michigan"), and even the term "frisbee"!
- Don't try and cheat the system. If you didn't make it yourself, you most likely need permission to use it. It's not just a SOTG thing - there could be serious legal implications for our company and your team.
- Don't give up! These may seem like tricky waters but we'd be happy to help you navigate! The original and legal piece of art we can work together to create will make for a more unique jersey anyway!
It never hurts to aspire to an original design (Watercolor Jersey). But some designs are inspired from life (Turkish LS, from the Hagia Sophia Basilica). Other times, you can get the rights to reproduce an image (Contraband).
You can get your order started by following this link, or feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. Let's get designing!
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