The Official Kunvay Blog

Learn how to navigate copyright and intellectual property ownership smartly so you own your work, and own your future.

3 Common Questions about T-Shirt Design & Copyright Law Answered

Tshirt copyright laws

Photo Credit: “8” by Mico Samardzija used under CC BY-NC 2.0

Summer is coming again and our thoughts inevitably turn to rounding up the usual suspects, a bunch of t-shirts, some cutoffs and a pair of sandals.

No more grabbing vintage tee collectables at the local resale store, this year is going to be different, this is the year you silk screen your own t-shirts.

How about a huge, green, Irish triskele, triple spiral, on a velvet black t-shirt or a banana yellow hibiscus printed over an ocean blue tee?

No question, there are millions of graphic possibilities but coming up with a creative vision that won’t step on someone else’s copyright for some reason invokes a measure of creative block.

No worries; get the screen printing inks ready.  We’ll take a look at the questions, sort out some answers and you’ll be cranking out t-shirts in no time.

1.  Can I print any design on a t-shirt legally?

There are two “bear-trap” words in this question and those are “any” and “legally.”

The answer to this very general question is wholly dependent on facts and circumstances left forever unstated.

There is Continue reading

T-Shirt Design Copyright Basics: 3 Facts Every Graphic Designer Should Know About T-Shirt Design

Photo Credit: 12a by Mico Samardzija used under CC BY-NC 2.0

Photo Credit: 12a by Mico Samardzija used under CC BY-NC 2.0

With the increased ability to share creative ideas and art, graphic designers everywhere are finding more lucrative opportunities to profit from their work.

T-shirt designing is a fashionable possibility but very little has been published to give guidance to the budding artists who are providing the designs that make today’s t-shirts so popular.

As the industry flourishes, copyright challenges and questions seem to grow almost as quickly.

Copyright ownership lines are often blurred and it’s a challenge to keep up with the laws and understand who owns what and who can do what to whom!  The maze of legal issues can be overwhelming and distract you from what’s really important – selling your work for profit.

Therefore, if you really want to monetize your graphic design work in the t-shirt world, you’ve got to know your legal rights and understand the copyright laws surrounding this industry. That way you can move forward knowing that your work is being distributed in a way that you’re comfortable with, without the stress of wondering if you’re losing money or control over your designs.

What is Copyright?

Before I go any further, let’s start with a basic definition of ‘copyright’ and what it means to t-shirt designers.

Copyright is the ownership over a piece of work or art and the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, commercially exploit, and otherwise profit from it.

So, for those of you designing art for t-shirts and other products, copyright generally refers to ownership and control over the art and designs you’re creating for third parties and their products.

The #1 Question T-Shirt Designers Ask Is . . . 

Over and over we hear, ‘When my work is printed on a t-shirt, who owns the copyrights?’

That’s the golden question. Continue reading