Skip to main content

Can a school use Dr. Seuss images and quotes as decorations for the school year without being sued for copyright infringement?

Dallas, TX |

Some teachers have decorated their classrooms with Dr. Seuss images which they have purchased. Others have traced Dr. Seuss images and copied Dr. Seuss quotes to hang on the walls. The idea of the theme is to encourage literacy and education.

Attorney Answers 5


  1. Probably.


  2. Educational used are among those listed add fair use. Keep this entirely
    non-commercial and do not distribute anything outside the school and you
    should be fine.
    >

    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.


  3. While I cannot give you legal advice in this forum, take a quick look at the following link regarding what amounts to fair use: http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html. Stay within the guidelines and you should be fine.

    THIS RESPONSE IS INTENDED TO CONVEY GENERAL INFORMATION ONLY. IT SHOULD NOT BE RELIED UPON OR TAKEN AS LEGAL ADVICE. FURTHER, THIS RESPONSE IS NOT INTENDED TO AND DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP.


  4. Those teachers that have purchased images made for the purpose of display have done the right thing. Those teachers that have traced images (when Dr. Seuss Enterprises sells images for this purpose) are exposing the school to risk of litigation. Whether copying the quotes is problematic would depend upon the quotes. All of that said, the risk of discovery is probably slight if the works are simply displayed and not mass produced. (But, if people start posting pictures of the unauthorized copies of the Dr. Seuss images on Facebook, etc., there will be a greater risk of receiving a cease and desist letter from the Seuss folks.)

    Any answer or other information posted above is general in nature and is not intended, nor should it be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the posting attorney, and you are urged to engage a qualified attorney who is licensed to practice in the relevant jurisdiction.


  5. Your question seems to be more complex than it looks on the surface. While I agree with my colleagues’ comments on fair use, in general, there may be room for a trademark infringement claim. As peculiar as this might sound, in 1989 the Walt Disney Company sued a few daycare facilities in Florida for painting Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters on their walls. After the characters were removed, Universal replaced them with their characters. The truth is that some companies protect zealously their trademarks, despite the risk of bed publicity.