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Old 03-08-09, 03:54 PM
Alessandra Kelley Alessandra Kelley is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Chicago, Illinois USA
Posts: 417

Good grief, don't ever use the "compliment" argument. It holds no legal water anywhere. And don't use the not-making-a-profit argument either. It's just as illegal to copy someone's work and distribute it for free as it is to sell it for a profit.

However, copyright law is weird. I don't claim to be an expert on it (Really, you should check out good sites on art law copyrights such as or A lot of basic questions are answered at ) but ...

Fashion design is NOT covered by American copyright law. Seriously! It's a major current issue in the fashion world, and a very thorny one given the need to define what is a fashion design, what is a knockoff, etc. The major players want copyright, but they haven't got it yet (And probably should not, see the arguments in and )

What does this mean? It means you can paint pictures of Chanel's clothing to your heart's content as long as you are not ripping off another artists' work (such as a photograph of the fashions, which IS copyrighted). In France maybe not so much. Their copyright laws are different.

However, you certainly do have to get permission to use anybody's copyrighted image on garments. Whether they are a designer or a corporation or your creative nephew, you must have permission or you are violating copyright. And good luck getting Winnie the Pooh. Disney is renowned for its Darth Vader-like treatment of copyright infringements.

As for people's images in photographs, again, that's tricky and I'm not too clear on it myself. In general, the photographer owns the copyright to the photograph. This is why it is illegal to reproduce a photo of yourself or your kids which was taken in a portrait studio -- you don't have that right, even though you commissioned the photo and you're in it. The copyright belongs to the photographer.
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