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Is it legal to use Disney character images on my blog? What about an artist's rendering of a Disney character?

Athens, GA |

I am a new blogger and am writing articles on movies. It is mostly lists and analysis of different aspects of characters and such. I will be making money off of ads that are put on the blog. What I want to know is if it's legal to use Disney pictures to enhance this blog? What about using someone else's artwork of a Disney character? (with permission, of course). I would be most appreciative for an answer.

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Attorney answers 6

Posted

No, you can not do that without paying the copyright holder.

We do not have an attorney-client relationship. I am not your lawyer. The statements I have made do not constitute legal advice. Any statements I have made are based upon the very limited facts you have presented, and under the premise that you will consult with a local attorney. This is not an attempt to solicit business. This disclaimer is in addition to any disclaimers that this website has made. I am only licensed in California.

Christopher A Pearsall

Christopher A Pearsall

Posted

For Disney images, express written/contractual permission is needed.

Golnar Sargeant

Golnar Sargeant

Posted

Right, and nothing is too small for Disney to pursue.

Bruce E. Burdick

Bruce E. Burdick

Posted

Many things are too small for Disney to pursue, and fair use is often one of them where permission may not be needed.

Posted

No. Stop now before you get yourself in real trouble. I don't care who responds that there may be some fair use avenue for you to proceed down with the blog, this is a very bad idea without vetting by competent IP counsel. The specific answer to your initial question (which ISN'T your only problem with this idea), is that you need permission from Disney, not from someone else that also infringed Disney's IP by reproducing Disney's artwork. Bottom line, you want to profit off of Disney - which absent Disney's permission is going to result in trouble for you.

I am not your attorney and any posts/messages or responses to posts/messages can not establish an attorney-client relationship. www.PatchogueAttorney.com You should not rely upon free legal advice and I disclaim any liability for the results if you do.

Golnar Sargeant

Golnar Sargeant

Posted

Well said Mr. Siepmann. As someone who lives and works 10 minutes from Disneyland (they have corporate offices in there too), with many friends and neighbors who work for Disney, I can assure the questioner, Disney tends to take these things very seriously, and there is no infraction too small for them to pursue.

Christopher A Pearsall

Christopher A Pearsall

Posted

Yes, that is very well said and a good comment by Ms. Sargeant. We shouldn't assume that the person asking the question is trying to use the image for profit but at the same time, it doesn't matter. You can't use the image for profit or not without express written permission. You are also correct, they take this very seriously and they DO go after you if you use their images without permission.

Bruce E. Burdick

Bruce E. Burdick

Posted

There is actually some leeway for commentary and criticism. And, really there are many things too small for Disney to pursue. A blog, however, will likely get their attention.

Posted

Not without paying Disney for the rights to use their image. Disney, in particular, is highly active in protecting their images. I would recommend staying TWO ten-foot poles away from using any unlicensed images.

This answer is not intended to be legal advice. READ THIS BEFORE you contact me! My responses to questions on Avvo are not offered as legal advice and you must not rely upon my answers as if they were legal advice. I give legal advice ONLY in the course of a written attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by joint execution of a written agreement for legal services. Consultations are always free.The Law Offices of Eric Ridley emphasizes Consumer Law, Collection Defense, Bankruptcy & Litigation. Eric D. Ridley is licensed to practice law in California. This answer is intended to provide general information only. It does not create an Attorney-Client relationship, nor should it be construed as legal advice or an opinion on specific situations. I am a lawyer, but I am not *your* lawyer until we have a written agreement that says so.

Christopher A Pearsall

Christopher A Pearsall

Posted

Right on target Mr. Ridley! Perhaps even MORE ten-foot poles. Their images are what make them their bread and butter. If you use them, you are asking for trouble.

Bruce E. Burdick

Bruce E. Burdick

Posted

There actually is some leeway under fair use principles. See an IP attorney.

Eric D Ridley

Eric D Ridley

Posted

I don't know that a small blog is going to have the resources or available capital for an IP consultation; in general, as far as fair use goes, my personal advice is - if in doubt if it's Fair use - it isn't.

Posted

No, it is not legal. You can't use an actual Disney image nor can you use an artist's rendering without the express written permission of Disney, Inc. or the proper company holder of the copyright for that character. It doesn't matter whether you are trying to use the image for profit or not.

Disclaimer: This is NOT legal advice. It is GENERAL INFORMATION ONLY, and does NOT establish an Attorney/Client Relationship with you. My answer cannot address your specific legal situation and you should not rely upon my answer in your legal matter. The GENERAL INFORMATION I provide here is NOT a substitute for legal advice provided by a competent and licensed legal practitioner in the jurisdiction where your case would be heard after the attorney is informed about all the facts and circumstances surrounding your case. You should always obtain professional legal advice and you should never act on any information found on the internet, no matter how reliable it may be or seem.

Bruce E. Burdick

Bruce E. Burdick

Posted

17 USC 107 read it. http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/107

Posted

I agree in part with the only other intellectual property attorney who’s responded and disagree with all the rest.

As Attorney Siepmann rightly notes, “this is a very bad idea without vetting by competent IP counsel” and that Disney may cause trouble for you.

I disagree, however, with his conclusion that you categorically MUST acquire Disney’s permission to display its, relevant, fictional characters on a website specifically designed to comment and critique and discuss those Disney characters and the movies in which they appear.

There are many Disney-themed blogs that do a very good job of not causing source or association confusion with Disney and which limit their publication of Disney’s fictional characters to well within lawful fair use – so far within, in fact, that if Disney did file an infringement suit it would be sanctioned.

You and your own intellectual property attorney should review the blogs linked-to below and discuss how you can go about lawfully publishing Disney characters. 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.

Paul Karl Siepmann

Paul Karl Siepmann

Posted

I concur. Your answer is better than mine on the law. I still like my advice better for this particular poster, as I get the feeling they aren't going to hire the IP counsel we both agree on. ;)

Christopher A Pearsall

Christopher A Pearsall

Posted

I agree in the same manner as Atty Siepmann. However, I do disagree with the Disney blogs mentioned. Each one of the sites has advertisements on it to gain the owner revenue and to that extent since it is the Disney Content and images that bring the person to the advertisement I would err on the side of caution. I don't believe that falls under the Fair Use Doctrine. But I do agree there certainly probably are some sites like these that have no advertising and to the extent they provide commentary or criticism on the disney images or works then that probably does fall under the Fair Use Doctrine. You would always want to hire IP counsel as my colleagues have stated to make sure you don't cross the line.

Daniel Nathan Ballard

Daniel Nathan Ballard

Posted

I don't think that publishing sponsored advertising on a comment/critique blog precludes a finding of fair use of the images being discussed.

Posted

This is not advisable. It could pose legal risk under a number of intellectual property rights laws. My colleagues have noted many of them. There may be some leeway under fair use provided use is limited to what is minimally necessary for the commentary or critical review in the blog. It's best to work closely with IP counsel about this.

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.

Christopher A Pearsall

Christopher A Pearsall

Posted

Well said Attorney Burdick. Certainly this was a very interesting topic to comment on.

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