If you’re an artist, creative person, or entrepreneur, you know how difficult it can be to come up with the perfect design for a product. One way to add interest and draw attention to your product is by using cleverly worded quotes on merchandise. But can you use quotes from famous people without running into intellectual property issues? The good news is that yes, it is possible. Let’s take a closer look at the different types of works and why they are allowed to be used on merchandise.
What Is Considered Public Domain?
Quotes from ancient sages, philosophers, and famous people who have since passed are a part of the public domain. This means that anyone may use these works without having to worry about intellectual property law issues. However, it’s important to remember that if someone else has created a new take based on these public domain works — like a modern interpretation or spin on a famous quote– permission must be obtained from the creator before it can be used commercially.
Using Fair Use Exceptions
Another way to use famous quotes on products is by taking advantage of what is known as fair use exceptions. Fair use exceptions allow for limited use of copyrighted material without having to obtain permission from the copyright holder or pay any fees. It does not apply if more than a small portion of a work is used for commercial purposes or if there are substantial economic gains made by using the copyrighted material. For example, using just a short quote would be considered “fair use” and not an actionable infringement. So yes, you can use short quotes on merchandise if you follow the fair-use guidelines laid out by copyright law.
Always Err on the Side of Caution
Using quotes from famous people on merchandise can be an effective way to reach potential customers while tapping into their admiration for inspirational figures throughout history. As long as those quotes are short snippets taken from works in the public domain or used under fair use guidelines, then they can safely be used without worry of intellectual property infringement.
Of course, if there’s any doubt about whether something falls within fair use criteria or if it would require written permission from an author/artist/etc., then err on the side of caution and get official authorization before proceeding with the production of your product(s). That way you won’t have any surprises down the line!
If you have additional questions about copyrights, we are here to help. Schedule an Initial Discovery Session online by clicking here or call us at (888) 666-0062.