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Am I able to put a famous persons quote on a craft to sell? For example: It's kind of fun to do the impossible." by Walt Disney

Akron, OH |

I understand what images I can and can not use for selling, but I'm a little shaky on famous quotes, either from a famous person or movie/character. If I were to put a quote on a design of my own, or just sell the quote as is, is that allowed?

Attorney Answers 4

  1. You are asking for trouble selling a large amount of items that publish quotes from a single individual because that may not be lawful without Disney permission -- especially if that person such as Disney actively attempts to make money endorsing products or selling products.

  2. This question has been asked and answered many hundreds of times. Visit the link below to read those questions and answers. You will learn much more information there than can ever be provided in response to just your one question. The short answer: Yes, the vast majority of quotes, even from famous people, may lawfully be displayed on a product that is for sale. But some can't, so read those other answers as well. Good luck.

    The above response 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.

  3. I agree with the other attorney here as well. Generally, using quotes to enhance a broader work will not be a problem because in most cases they are part of a much larger body of work and you cannot be said to infringe on the whole by using such a small portion of it. That said, there are arguments that can be brought that claim that even if a small portion of the larger work is used it is copyright infringement if that is the most commercially valuable part of the work and the one that the market recognizes. Further, using quotes can also in some cases violate someone's trademark rights if they use the same or similar as a tagline or slogan to identify their work in the same or related industry.

    Lastly, and more to the point, I think using only one famous person's quote presents another potential problem. That is, it may be seen as a violation of that person's right to privacy and publicity and some states extend such rights to deceased persons. Disney is hyper-aggressive about their intellectual property and they can certainly put pressure on you if they did not like your plan irrespective of whether they have a good legal case or not so you should always consider this.

    I suggest that you consult with a lawyer in private and discuss your objectives in more detail. You can start by calling around to several for a free phone consultation, get some insights then pick the best fit to work with.

    Best regards,
    Natoli-Lapin, LLC

    DISCLAIMER: this is not intended to be specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. No attorney-client relationship is formed with the law firm of Natoli-Lapin, LLC on the basis of this posting.

  4. The primary problem is not the quote but rather the use of the authors's name or, in the case of Walt Disney, brand name. You cannot put the name Walt Disney on your craft for purposes of selling your craft without permission from Disney. WALT DISNEY is one of the most famous trademarks in the entire world. If a substantial number of your customers would be confused as to source between your products bearing the brand name WALT DISNEY and the products of Disney bearing the brand name WALT DISNEY, you have a legal risk. Disney is very aggressive in protecting their world-famous trademarks, especially their house mark. I think you're taking a significant risk if you do this. If you do it, just put the quote and not the name Walt Disney. If you don't want to do that, then you know very well you are trying to deceive consumers into associating your product with Disney without permission.

    I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.

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