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Gamers Selling upcycled comic accessories in conventions...is this legal?

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Original Post

Tyrone Williams says
Edited on Apr 24, 2012

seeing that someone posted a thread regarding about copyright infringement, i wonder about this topic...

if u go to a convention and sell up cycled comics and repurposed items using comics (I'm mentioning this because i'm planning on going to a convention soon), wouldn't it be a legal issue to sell the items outside of etsy?

i went to past conventions and none ever had any items being sold on the artist alleys and whatnot. i can understand if it was fan art or satire or w/e u call it these days but....lolz i still think u run a high risk on getting sued from the comic book industry

what do y'all think?

Posted at 9:56 pm Apr 24, 2012 EDT

Responses

I think I am so tired of talking about copyright infringement I could scream.

Can we go back to talking about fun video games? Or how about the game of the month??!! We are almost at the end of the month, has anyone had time to work on something for Worms??

Posted at 10:32 pm Apr 24, 2012 EDT

honestly, who cares about infringing copyright? the whole blood from a stone thing comes to mind. you can sue me as hard as you can, you still won't get anything...

Posted at 10:54 pm Apr 24, 2012 EDT

i find it surprising that many ppl are taking a lot of comics and putting it into accessories. and im even more surprised that the conventions arent doin anything about it. imo i think ppl who do that are walkin on thin ice to get sued.

Posted at 9:04 am Apr 25, 2012 EDT

Heather says

Read about some different points of view here: smallerbox.net/blog/legal-issues/working-with-upcycled-materials-yo...

The whole area is super grey. We would need some landmark case where an artist got sued and stood up against the big guy to set precedence to what is and isn't part of fair use and first-sale doctrine (Which will probably never happen for reasons below). As you can see, depending on the lawyer you ask, upcycling comic books could be protected by the first-sale doctrine. Yes people doing it may worry about being sued, but they can countersue.

Call all the news outlets you know and get them all to run stories called "Big bad company sues small artist for millions over $10 necklace" and see how fast they'll drop that case. Like Meanwhile said, they're not going to get much out of you, so they're not going to risk public backlash to get money you don't even have.

Posted at 10:38 am Apr 25, 2012 EDT

heather: you'd actually have a better 1st amendment argument than first-sale doctrine.

it's all about the "transformative" nature of what you create. wikipedia has a good layman's info on fair use. the big thing about this as compared to selling finished items of, say, pokemon fabric, is that clothing is what the fabric is intended for. in this case, it's quite a different thing to make jewelry out of comics.

first-sale doctrine is a property right; 1st amendment is the most protected right we have, and a 1st amendment argument is far stronger.

Posted at 3:28 pm Apr 25, 2012 EDT

i'm going to keep saying this: it is always legal to sell your own property. anything you own is yours to sell. the ONLY reason that argument wouldn't work in court is because most of the prospective defendants couldn't afford the appropriate defense team to argue the case. the problem is not that YOU make profit from it . (profit is what's left over after basic survival needs, so how much is really profit?) it's that etsy makes profit from it.

Posted at 3:41 pm Apr 25, 2012 EDT

well, no, you're wrong. as my criminal law prof said on the first day of law school, "you're not guilty until a judge tells you you're guilty."

it's a lot more complicated than just using first-sale doctrine.

and, you can actually end up in jail for copyright infringement. true, you can't get blood from a stone, but you can throw them in jail for it. you can still do time for civil injury.

Posted at 5:20 pm Apr 25, 2012 EDT

'm going to keep saying this: it is always legal to sell your own property. anything you own is yours to sell. the ONLY reason that argument wouldn't work in court is because most of the prospective defendants couldn't afford the appropriate defense team to argue the case. the problem is not that YOU make profit from it . (profit is what's left over after basic survival needs, so how much is really profit?) it's that etsy makes profit from it.

Posted at 5:52 pm Apr 25, 2012 EDT

I am selling at a shop in the mall and the owner (who has a back ground in law) said that if you buy something and make stuff out of it, it is ok, because you bought that item to make items out of. I was using old videogame box artwork for necklaces, and he said that it is ok to do that since I bought the item, something like a "first use" thing or something.

Posted at 5:09 pm Apr 26, 2012 EDT

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