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About the Disney princess image

Clinton, OK |

If I wanted to put say Cinderella on a crown but not with the name disney or cinderella if I just use her image is that legal? I want to use them for a pageant to give away to little girls

Attorney Answers 5


  1. Your question is confusingly written. You really want to put a _picture_ of Cinderella on a crown, no name, correct. And you are going to get the picture from a Disney site, yes?

    No, that is almost certainly a copyright violation at the least--some Disney artist drew it and they own it. They may also have registered the picture as a trademark, another violation.

    But ... if you draw or have someone draw a Cinderella from scratch.... You can name it Cinderella if you would like. The basic story goes back some 2000 years, no kidding. And a story with this name goes back almost 400. Disney cannot TM the name, and no name can be copr. protected. Have a ball, pun intended.

    Licensed in Maryland with offices in Maryland and Oregon. Information here is general, does not create a lawyer-client relationship, and is not a substitute for consulting with an experienced attorney on the specifics of your situation.


  2. No. This is copyright and trademark infringement---without a license from Disney this is not legal.


  3. Gee, this question has some elements in common with the one about Snow White posted a couple of months ago, which I answered at http://www.avvo.com/legal-answers/if-starting-a-business-called--snow-white-s-pies---729973.html

    No, Disney doesn't have exclusive rights to the name "Cinderella," because, as my learned colleague has noted a few minutes ago, that story and name long pre-dates Walt and his creative team. But the particular image used for Cinderella in the Disney movie would be protected by copyright.

    This posting is intended for general education and isn't "legal advice." It doesn't create or evidence an attorney-client relationship. You are encouraged to engage an attorney in the pertinent jurisdiction for confidential legal advice on matters of any importance.


  4. I agree with Attorney Marcus. If you draw a picture of "Cinderella" [that is, a picture of a young, kind-looking, fresh-faced girl with far away eyes] then you may lawfully affix that picture onto crowns [do you mean tiaras?] that are then given away to young girls at a pageant.

    HOWEVER, your image of "Cinderella" cannot look like Disney's Cinderella [see http://goo.gl/qgRVQ ]. Or anything "substantially similar" to Disney's Cinderella. How close is too close? Dunno. That's a judgment call. Too close and you'd be committing copyright infringement.

    I think that pretty much does away with your idea. If your Cinderella does not look like Disney's Cinderella [see, for example, http://goo.gl/1TL3t and http://goo.gl/F8h5r and http://goo.gl/Crrf3 ] then who would know the girl in the picture is "Cinderella?" No one unless you also label your picture with the name Cinderella. Which, to my mind, is most certainly NOT an infringement of any trademark rights that Disney has in its various "Cinderella" trademarks.

    The above is general information ONLY and is not legal advice, does not form an attorney-client relationship, and should NOT be relied upon to take or refrain from taking any action. I am not your attorney. You should seek the advice of competent counsel before taking any action related to your inquiry.


  5. It is legal if you get permission from Disney, and given your intended use I think permission is likely to be given. Also, if you buy legitimate licensed Cinderella decals such permission is more likely, in fact quite likely, as it is promotion for them in a positive way with their target audience. A lawyer who is a member of INTA along with Disney trademark lawyers could likely get this permission for you with a single telephone call for a nominal charge.

    Without such permission, it's not legal for the reasons ably stated by my colleagues.

    So far, this is free to you. Until you pay a fee, I am not your lawyer and you are not my client, so you take any free advice at your sole risk. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.