Legal Ways to Print Fan Art on T-Shirts

Dec 23, 2016 by

Isn’t it amazing that these days you get to do almost anything that you want, especially when it comes to custom printing T-shirts? People always have this urge to wear something that they love to but can’t seem to find them in boutiques or stores that sell t-shirts. It is because of this reason that custom printing is now available. There is also printing fan art on T-shirts, which is getting popular these days. But the question is when you print a fan art of some artist, is it legal to do so?

Men's T-Shirt

According to law, whoever it is that holds the copyright to a particular thing has the sole right in selling and making “derivative works.” This includes sequels that are based on their original concept. It even includes characters you find in a book or elements of a plot carry copyright protection. Fan fiction, as many people love to consider to print, is considered as “derivative work.”


However, this doesn’t mean that fan art is never allowed.


In a general sense, you do not want to do anything that would generate confusion when it comes to the product considered to be official. Usually, fan art is a transformation of the original concept. This means that the more different the art is from its original, the stronger the case that the fan art falls under the fair use of laws.


But even if that legal line is crossed, there are not much trademark disputes on any fan creations. However, they do happen from time to time.


If you plan to make money from your fan art such as printing them on T-shirts, you will highly likely face legal issues. At the same time, fan art does not do any harm to its original creation. This means that copyright holders are not likely to go after and sue their fans. What you should avoid at all cost are trademark names or logos, since those are likely to get you in trouble.


Why would you be sued? It is clear that your fan art is not official and that it is not a replacement of its original creation. It is fine if you print your fan art and not making money out of it, but it is a different matter when you do so otherwise. When you receive a request from the one holding the copyright to stop what you are doing, you should follow it.You can also create your own t-shirt.

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