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Re: Tshirt design legal issues

/* The following is not legal advice.  Please contact an attorney for questions on the legality of your conduct.  I provide general remarks on Copyright law that are not specifically tailored to the facts regarding your T-Shirt Designs.  */

In general, if the design you are using is not something that is your original _expression_ the copyright may be held by the original creator, and your use will be subject to their terms.  Things unprotected by Copyright can generally be freely used without restriction (like things in the public domain or works whose terms of protection have expired).

The designs you are using on the shirt are not your original work.  The use of artwork of another party requires confirmation of the terms of use with the copyright holder.  I'm guessing the terms of use of the debian logo are something conforming to the debian social contract that permits your use and modification of the logo.

Short phrases are not subject of copyright.  See 37 C.F.R. Sec. 202.1 (stating "words or short phrases such as names, titles and slogans" as not subject to copyright).  One case involving phrases like "ET Phone Home" suggests courts will extend protection despite the Copyright Office's regulation.  See Universal Studios, Inc. v. Kamar Industries, Inc., 217 U.S.P.Q. 1162 (S.D. Tex. 1982). Whether "apt-get into it" is such a phrase requires an attorney's advice.

As an aside, phrases like "apt-get over it" could be protected by Trademark.  Trademark and patent law are very different from Copyright because you actually have to spend money and register in each jurisdiction (iin most cases) to gain protection; whereas Copyright vests with the creator at the time of creation.

On your website you write:
You may print this design to sell the shirts, but please donate some of the profit you make on these t-shirts to Debian, a least 1 US Dollar per shirt sold would be nice, and send me a couple of prints too :)
The GPL and other Free Software/OSI Approved licenses prohibit you from limiting the commerical use of software.  For example you could not, consistent with an Open Source license, take software and impose restrictions on the commercial use to your downstream users.

Whether "please donate" to debian and "send me" stuff means you are imposing a restriction on the use of artwork governed by similiar terms is a question an attorney can answer for you.

Hope that helps!  Cool T-Shirt btw!! :)_

--- Ferdinand Hagethorn <fer@terminal-ice.org> wrote:
> Hi there,
> I've created a t-shirt design and i'd like to know
> if it's legal to
> distribute this freely on the net for all diy'ers
> out there.
> If it's not legal i'll pull it off immediately.
> But if it's okay i'd like a disclaimer for people
> who will use the
> images to make money (eg use them for commercial
> purposes)
> so that they'll send 1 US dollar per shirt to the
> Debian initiative.
> It the disclaimer i've put on the site sufficiant?
> If not i could use
> some help here.
> The text for the back of the shirt is 'apt-get into
> it' which is from a
> banner made by someone at linux.com (found on the
> banner part of
> debian.org)
> Thanks for all your time and keep up the good n cool
> work.
> Yours,
> Ferdinand Hagethorn
> --
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