Copyright Laws on Copyrighted Franchises in Cards?

Hello, my name is Chris and I’m interested in making card templates for sale either locally or online. I work in a Photo Lab and I occasionally see customers bring in JPEGs of birthday cards that someone on Etsy apparently made for them. In most cases the cards will feature a licensed or copyrighted franchise, in example Fortnite, and will use assets as an essential part of the design and theme of the birthday card / invitation. What is the copyright law around this? Obviously a parent company to a franchise wouldn’t benefit much from going after such a minor violation of copyright but I don’t want to disregard the rules.

(Example of an Etsy Listing?

I think you’ve answered your own question.

They’re unlikely to enforce their copyright on individual cards made by individuals for personal use, but if you start selling and posting templates online with copyrighted materials, you’ll likely end up hearing from their attorneys.

It’s copyrighted and probably trademarked too. Making your own products without a license from those companies exposes you to financial liability.

Etsy would get around this by saying 1) they’re not responsible for content posted by members and 2) stuff on there is supposed to be one-off, for personal use only. Both of these are horsefeathers. If it’s copyright or trademarked you can’t use it. Simple.

I’m a bit surprised that Etsy doesn’t get more negative attention for the ways that graphics are misappropriated and peddled there by people who are otherwise amateurs. I really didn’t know anything about it until a few years back when my daughter wanted her baby shower stuff to be Little Mermaid themed and sent me several links to examples of what she wanted. I was shocked by the veritable world of copyright infringement that is ongoing there, along with the bizarre and hacky graphic design “business model” that appears to be common practice.

I actually had my first run-in with an Etsy-Instagram designer last week (all contact and work is done thru Instagram). It’s not something we’d usually see here. We had to turn down the work. Not only for copyright, but for resolution issues.

These guys have covered the law well so I don’t need to repeat them. Here’s how you avoid liability.

On your proof page have a standard (boiler plate) rights statement. It should say:

“We, (company name/artist name), retain no legal rights to images, art, or other design materials provided by the customer. The customer asserts the legal right to use the images provided. Customer absolves (company / artist) of any and all legal obligations pertaining to Intellectual Property or other ownership claims or actions against customer.”

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