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Urban Myths About Copyright & Trademarks

Page added June 26, 2008

Some of the urban myths we run across concerning trademarks and copyrights drive us nuts as well as them being totally stupid when logically examined. People readily believe these myths because they seem reasonable, or because they come from a trusted source, or that they want to believe it, or that they are stupid and don't realize it. Most people are not stupid, they just simply haven't been told the truth.

Most of our examples use Disney as the rights owner because Disney is the primary name we hear. We have also heard used the NFL and Major League Baseball, and a few others. We are not implying Disney, or any other company, is the rights owner doing any of this unless we give you documentation to back up the claim. Unlike the ones who spread these urban myths, we document what we say.

When we challenged one blogger to prove their claims regarding rights owners putting people out of business and seizing their property, they responded that the documentation was out there and we should go look it up. Well, it's not out there, folks. Hence, we have posted this page.

This list is not complete. We are adding to it as we go. If you have a contribution please email us with it.

  • Disney (or some other company) confiscates infringing material at craft shows and flea markets.
    There are a variety of these bouncing around the internet. Not one person can tell us a specific person to whom this has happened, any law suit concerning this, or any newspaper atricles to support this claim. It's always happened to someone else other than the person spreading the rumor.

    Disney, or whatever comapny is claimed, does not have the legal authority to seize anything without a specific court order. Consider this: the United States government, or any state and/or local government, cannot search your house without a court warrent, they cannot seize any property without a court order, or even question you without your lawyer being present, and yet people are willing to believe that Disney, or whatever comapny is claimed, can seize your property simply by declaring it is infringing and taking it from you? Get real here, folks. It simply doesn't happen. Disney, or whatever comapny is claimed, does not have the authority or legal power to do this. Any person who claims otherwise is a liar or an idiot.

  • Disney shut down a day care center for using its images.
    False. According to Snopes.com, in 1988 Disnet threatened three day care centers in Florida that had Disney characters on their walls. Universal Studios Florida and Hanna-Barbera Productions stepped up and repainted the cay care walls with their cartoon characters amid very unfavorable publicity for Disney. No one was put out of business and no one was fined or sued.

  • Making a 10% (or 15% or 20%) change in a trademarked or copyrighted image is "fair use" under the law.
    Hogwash. The courts use a "reasonble person" test when determining whether something is infringing. If a reasonable person looking at the item in question would conclude that is confusingly similar, or was copied from the trademarked or copyrighted image in question, then it is infringing. Altering the image a little bit does not protect you from infringement allegations. Commercial use of someone else's intellectual property is infringement and minor changes don't alter that.

  • Pattern manufacturers have the right to prevent one from making and then selling items manufactured from their patterns.
    Pure, unadulterated crap. See our Patterns page for more information.

  • Fabric manufacturers have the right to prevent one from making and then selling items manufactured from their fabrics.
    More pure, unadulterated crap. See our Licensed Fabrics page for more information.

  • Seizure Of Trademrked Goods By OU and OSU
    True. In October, 2007, representatives from Oklahoma State University and Oklahoma University seized items at a craft show that the representatives claimed were infringing. Larceny charges were filed against the school representatives and the matter was resolved without court.
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