Hello. Similar question has been asked before regarding T-shirts, but I'd like to elaborate a bit further. We are considering selling (per profit) printed posters with pictures of classic cars. We are based in Europe, but will be selling it worldwide (also in the US, hence the question here). Let's asume that pictures have been properly acquired, so there are no copyright problems in relation client/photographer. Let's say, that we will only have photos of actual cars printed, no additional printed graphic (logotype, typography) that might be a separate case. We have two potential issues regarding CR. One is the design and shape of the car itself and the other is a physical logotype/mark that is physically attached on vehicle and will also appear on the photo. What happens, if we retouche the branding out and are only left with a picture of a vehicle (no marks)? Can this be trated as fair use, since the shape and design of the vehicle has been so ubiquitous? What if the cars are older than 25 years? A mass produced item looses it's protection after this time, and you can physically copy it. I would assume that you can also print the photo? Thank you all very much for your replies.
The biggest issue you have is probably the trademark aspect. This will be seen as presenting a false association, sponsorship, endorsement or other affiliation with the brand owners even if you omit the branding itself. As you know, many of these vehicles have clearly recognizable as well as iconic designs (e.g., Chevy Corvette or Ford Mustang).
Also we still have copyright considerations as well because you would be copying and distributing as well as creating derivative works from those auto designs even if you have the permission of the creator of the photo. And the copyright landscape only tends to get more austere in the EU. But I really have to come short of making conclusions here over a free Q&A platform.
Before you commit to anything, 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.
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-Legal, LLC on the basis of this posting.
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