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Am I Breaking The Law

Posted by: Anthony Lakes on 06/19/2013 - 4:10 PM

Can you help me. i created a banner using the labels of a well known beer from America and called it the Bud label banner please come to page and just have a quick view, I am not looking to sell it at present because I am having issues at present with a certain brewing company.. What i want to know is am i breaking any copyright law or am i right to think that all I have done here is used artistic license (can I really call it a piece of art ??) I really would appreciate the comments of any members. Thanks all


Oldest Reply

Posted by: Evie Carrier on 06/19/2013 - 4:12 PM

My daughter is a prosecutor--and she would say--"don't go there" :)


Posted by: Angelina Vick on 06/19/2013 - 4:31 PM

Consult a lawyer.

If you get sued for doing this, saying "artists on a website said it's ok" will not stand for much.
Legal advice should come from a lawyer.


Posted by: Deborah Smolinske on 06/19/2013 - 4:32 PM

The short answer is, yes, you've infringed on Budweiser's trademark. Especially the two that look like ads for Budweiser. The first one, which is just the banner you made out of old labels, probably wouldn't get you into much trouble. There are lots of "crafters" out there who make things out of repurposed trash. While it is an infringement on the trademark of the original maker, most companies won't bother to pursue it, primarily because the new piece of "art" doesn't hurt their brand (and also because there's little money to be gained from some "crafter" making a hat out of old Coke cans, et cetera). But those two you made that look like ads could be construed as hurting their brand in some way, and I can see why the company might be unhappy about those. They want to control their own ads, not have you selling things that someone later thinks is an official Budweiser ad of some kind.

For further research on this subject, Google "Andy Warhol" and "Campbell's Soup." While Warhol did technically infringe on Campbell's trademark, the company chose not to pursue any claims against him (they even supported his work by giving him free labels). They certainly could have made a claim against him if they'd wanted to. They chose to leave him alone because it was felt that he was enhancing rather than detracting from their brand.


Posted by: Mike Savad on 06/19/2013 - 4:37 PM

if your using said banner to advertise ANYTHING, since your using a copyright, even if your not using it to sell, you can get in trouble. if your using a copyright for something not for sale, you still need permission.

i'm not sure what this banner is for. if it's that last flag image you have - remove it, because it is an infringement. it's one thing to sell as art with the bottles, but not the name. when in doubt ask a lawyer, you have to ask yourself - is it worth it? court fees are expensive.

---Mike Savad


Posted by: John Lyes on 06/19/2013 - 4:37 PM

Grey area here. Unless you're intent is to cause some sort of controversy or make a point of fact in protest, then you can display a banner such as an example of bringing to light a dispute with a product etc. I doubt they would bring a suit against you if it means bad press for them.


Posted by: Jim Hughes on 06/19/2013 - 4:41 PM

If you were trying to sell this as 'stock', the agencies would reject it in a microsecond.

As a banner for other people to use to sell their products, no you can't do that either.

As an art photo, I think you're ok. FAA is full of logos and they often sell. The worst that could happen would be a complaint from the copyright owner, and you'd probably have to take it down because contesting it would be prohibitively expensive. I see this happen a lot on Redbubble where people want to sell t-shirts with Darth Vader on them. Nobody goes to jail.

No, I'm not a lawyer. I just take issue with the idea that in today's world we have to consult a lawyer before blowing our noses.


Posted by: Isabella F Abbie Shores on 06/19/2013 - 4:42 PM

Please remove them until you have received legal advice or permission from Bud


Posted by: Catherine Fenner on 06/19/2013 - 4:48 PM

One of my jobs for a hotel company was searching for and responding to logo infractions for the company. Someone even came close to using the parts of the sign image, logo or tag line they got a "cease and desist within x days." If not down or pulled within that time the matter was turned over to the attorneys who pulled no punches. It costs thousands to defend.

Remember the Obama poster that was a derivation of an AP photographer's original? He lost. (Was it AP? Correct me if I'm wrong.)

When I signed in right now, I saw a sale for the silhouette for Mad Men which even used the name in the title. That'll be fun to watch.

If you're even questioning you already know the answer. You're a creative. You have plenty of other ideas.


Posted by: Anthony Lakes on 06/19/2013 - 4:54 PM

well thanks all. so far in a matter of minutes I have discovered i am a fugitive....s*"t.. I made it for pure fun and from the prompting of family and friends I approached this great beer company who wanted to use it and then went cold on it... anyhow I just wanted to let other people see it and get their opinion about it....I'm not trying to make a statement of any kind other than to say this is my tribute to what I believe is a great beer from a great country..please keep the advice coming there


Posted by: Roy Erickson on 06/19/2013 - 4:56 PM

If you think you might be breaking the law - you probably are.


Posted by: John Lyes on 06/19/2013 - 5:09 PM

Mad Men silhouette is mine, and although technically it's protected, it's still fan art, just like Darth Vader. Now there's a great idea, Darth Vader a la Mad Men


Posted by: Anthony Lakes on 06/24/2013 - 1:07 PM


Posted by: Gary Whitton on 06/24/2013 - 2:01 PM

To paraphrase a famous photographer "Pick your battles. Should you get scared enough every time someone's art, logo, car, or copyrighted building shows up in your picture and not take or sell the shot? No. But avoid blatantly making the focus of your shot something you know will get you in trouble."

Because when it comes to copyright infringement, and lawsuits it all comes down to what the presumably aggrieved party is willing to spend going after you that matters, not whether you did anything wrong. Because you can still go bankrupt protecting yourself from a determined big corporate plaintiff. Which is why even microstock companies won't allow submissions for certain subjects anymore, whether its legal to shoot them or not (like cars). The legal trouble isn't worth it to them.


Posted by: DANCE with NATURE on 06/24/2013 - 2:08 PM

COMON SENSE says don't do it
Unless u have tons of money to fight big giants ...


Posted by: Igor Kislev on 06/24/2013 - 4:48 PM

Isn't big chunk of Pop Art about ad quotation?
Photography Prints

Of course banner is different story, don't go there


Posted by: Craig Carter on 06/24/2013 - 4:54 PM

I have seen a lot of stuff on here that I thought was questionable. But from what I see in yours is that you may be implying whether you realize it or not an afiliation with that company. Registered trademarks are just that in my opinion unless as someone mentioned you just keep for yourself and not in a public spotlight such as this website.


Posted by: Craig Carter on 06/24/2013 - 5:03 PM

If you really like and want to sell it then you could contact them for a license to sell it using their logo, trademark etc. You may want to give it a shot! Lots of loyal bud drinkers out there. Never know who will want to buy it. And it would become an offical licensed product.


Posted by: John Lyes on 06/24/2013 - 6:00 PM

Just do it and find out, it's doubtful you'd get any replies from lawyers unless you highly publicize your work


Posted by: Shana Rowe on 06/24/2013 - 9:49 PM

There are many law organizations that have free consultations with lawyers who specialize in this sort of thing for artists, I suggest you do a Google search to find one near you. But anybody who has done there research can tell you that banners like the ones you have would be considered Trademark infringement, provable in court by whether or not it has, or could cause confusion for consumers who may think Budweiser is paying you to advertize for them, or that you work for them in some other way. The banners you have do look like they could be Budweiser ads. Since you do not have any affiliation to the Budweiser corp. you have no legal right to use their Trademarked material. Corporations can be very strict in protecting their trademark because they could lose their trademark registration if it is abused, there for they are not too keen on letting others make money off their name. I would take them down as Abbie stated just to be safe.


Posted by: Mike Savad on 06/24/2013 - 9:56 PM

you won't be arrested, but you can be sued for all your worth. it's up to you to keep it up there and next time get permission from them before making something like this. there is no reason to take a chance. for all you know someone will buy the image, you'll see it on a commercial against that company, and you'll be the one that's sued.

---Mike Savad


Posted by: Igor Kislev on 06/24/2013 - 10:36 PM

"fair use" is a keyword
and of course anyone can be sued for anything,
in some countries chances are higher ;)


Posted by: Anthony Lakes on 06/25/2013 - 12:50 PM

So far I like you Deborah ....I like Campells soup..yum yum...


Posted by: Jim Poulos on 06/25/2013 - 1:22 PM

You may want to check out this site and post your question here

I am not a lawyer but it seems to me that the original using actual discarded bud cans, as opposed to reproductions or Photoshop, may have some first amendment protection. Prints and other derivatives of that original - not so much

Good luck


Posted by: Anthony Lakes on 06/25/2013 - 4:02 PM

Thanks Jim. I had a quick look at the site you recommended and it also mentioned the "campells soup" theme as an example as did one of the other respondents to my question. I am going to do a little bit of research into Andy Warhol and also into your suggestion of using the "first Amendment" as a ref point also, I guess you mean first Amendment in the sense of American Constitution?..Thank you Jim for your response and i shall keep you all posted as to any developments..


Posted by: Anthony Lakes on 06/25/2013 - 4:23 PM

Just a Quick question Jim if you don't have the answer that's OK.. Q.. do I not have to be an American citizen to avail of the Constitution. if any one can answer please do... this topic has begone to grow legs, this should get interesting .....................


Posted by: Mike Savad on 06/25/2013 - 4:53 PM

heres the thing, you can talk theories, warhol etc - but in the end, if you go to court, even if you win, you'll spend a lot of money doing so.

---Mike Savad


Posted by: Anthony Lakes on 06/25/2013 - 5:05 PM

To be honest Mike I don't have money to go any court and I have no intention of defending myself in a law suite..If I'm wrong so be it.."tis the Devil made me do it2..Where's your sense of fun....P.S I like your artwork..some excellent stuff you have there


Posted by: Mike Savad on 06/25/2013 - 5:14 PM

yeah, pluribus vs devil - that won't hold up in court. if your contacted by bud - you will have to take it down. if this site requests it you would have to take it down. if you don't - after someone said something, they can bring you to court. there is no devil, you were in your right mind when you made it, you were warned by the site and other artists that it's not a good idea, yet....

this isn't about fun, companies have to defend their trademark or they can lose it. you using it for something else is suable. the sense of fun is lost when you have to go to court or you get law letters from lawyers. sooner or later they will catch up.

and since all your art is that one logo - well, you knew what you were doing.

---Mike Savad


Posted by: John Lyes on 06/25/2013 - 5:30 PM

Take a chance and find out


Posted by: Mike Savad on 06/25/2013 - 5:33 PM

i remember when the lawyer of highlights magazine sent me a letter, all because i called to pumpkins goofus and gallant. that was just for a name, not the sole purpose of the art itself. it's one thing though if it's an advertisement in the background of something. it's another to make it a direct source of the art. but you did ask are breaking the law and technically you are.

---Mike Savad


Posted by: Jim Poulos on 06/25/2013 - 8:25 PM

I think that there are two separate issues here.

If I understand correctly the artist's original work is sort of a collage comprising of real Bud labels - not copies, paintings or photographs. I think that creation may have some protection. Perhaps an art gallery that has had some experience with similar art works might be willing to handle the sale or recommend a lawyer familiar with the issue. Surprisingly there is very little information on the net about what one can or cannot do with "found objects". The "doctrine of first sale" states that anything you purchase can be resold - the question is can you make an art object out of it and then sell the artwork

The other issue is a print made from that work, which might be sold here. Now you are talking about a photograph of a trademark and it is possible that does infringe on the trademark

Here is a situation that an artist found herself recently in New York. The artist was using discarded Metrocards as a sort of miniature "canvas" on which to create a painting. The MTA at first objected and demanded that she either cease and desist or pay their licensing fee. She fought back and the MTA compromised:

Note this passage:

"In a happy conclusion, Heavey [MTA Chief of Marketing] replied, “Simply change the listing on Etsy to read something like ‘original hand-painted art on a NY transit fare card,’ and refrain from using an image of an original, unpainted MetroCard in the listing; you may continue to do what you are doing.” Heavey finished the email by writing, “I wish you continued success with your ‘fare card art’ project…"

By the way the shape of the Metrocard is also trademarked - seems that the MTA did not want to risk a court challenge.


Posted by: Roger Swezey on 06/25/2013 - 8:34 PM

Just wondering,
By your profile picture and from your Bio, I ask,

" Can a gorilla be sued??"


Posted by: Jeffery Johnson on 06/25/2013 - 8:48 PM


Posted by: David Crowell on 06/26/2013 - 10:30 AM

Best to follow the licensing and image usage guidelines of the Really Big Company. They can afford more, better, and nastier lawyers than you can.

Directly using their labels for a piece that is sold as a physical artwork incorporating the labels is likely safer than selling (or showing) any photograph or reproduction of one of their labels, or even something that looks a lot like one of their labels.

A pattern of shapes and colours can be protected trade dress. If I show you a piece and you immediately say "that looks like Company XYZ" I am probably infringing.

If you're not sure if what you are doing is ok, ask a lawyer. If you can't afford a lawyer to ask, you w on't be able to afford one to defend yourself after either. Safer to just not go there.


Posted by: Anthony Lakes on 06/26/2013 - 12:51 PM

Roger that;s a good question, can a gorilla be sued?....A while back I discovered that this great brewing comp deliberately changed the shade of red and blue labels to match those of the American flag. Is this questionable? is it legal., Every one that has replied to this post have in their own way given me food for thought, some of the replies have made me believe that perhaps there is no such thing as freedom of expression, I am not an artist nor pretend to be one, neither am i a legal person or college/uni educated I simply created something for fun and thought can i make some money from this WHY NOT. who gets hurt, no one dies, no ones integrity or good name has been harmed ,In fact the only one who has or could suffer any damage from this is me and my liver....? right.. If any thing I believe I have enhanced the good name of Budweiser and made for them something that can only enrich their profile (not that they may need it) again all you good people i am enjoying your response's please keep them coming. also i have another question?...........................Is the American flag copyrighted, can i get into trouble for copying it.......


Posted by: Jim Poulos on 06/26/2013 - 6:38 PM

The American Flag is considered a "United States government work". Generally works of the US government cannot be copyrighted by law.

This might help

Note that while the federal government cannot copyright its works, states, municipalities and their agencies can protect their intellectual property via both trademark and copyright

For information specific to the flag you may want to see this site:


Posted by: Isabella F Abbie Shores on 06/26/2013 - 6:40 PM

I did actually ask you to remove the images quite a few days ago now until you know for sure that you have the right to use them


Posted by: Roz Abellera on 06/26/2013 - 6:55 PM

When in doubt leave it out. I took down some artwork I did of famous people because as I read more about the subject the more I found I could be sued simply for drawing a celebrity and selling a print. It's 50/50 you may or may not get sued depending on the situation, but I don't have time to play with those odds.


Posted by: Dan Turner on 06/26/2013 - 7:08 PM

Has anyone here ever been sued for copyright infringement? The odds are astronomical against it.

Dan Turner
Dan Turner Fine Art
Dan Turner's Seven Keys to Selling Art Online
To Enjoy Dan Turner's Pinterest Boards, Click Here


Posted by: Mike Savad on 06/26/2013 - 7:10 PM

but then there is always that one person who is made an example of. so who knows... it's like who would be sued for downloading mp3's? yet there were people on trial and had to go to jail for it.

---Mike Savad


Posted by: Roz Abellera on 06/26/2013 - 7:16 PM


Posted by: Rosemary Williams on 06/26/2013 - 7:56 PM

Trademark violation maybe? You have the company name, etc. on your own works.


Posted by: Dan Turner on 06/26/2013 - 8:35 PM

"It does happen."

Right. Shepard Fairey. Lot's of people think the case went to trial and Shepard lost. The case never went to trial. Shepard was caught lying to the court which brought far more severe charges than the infringement he was accused of. He eventually settled with the government and the AP, but there was NO legal ruling on the alleged infringement.

Unless your possible infringement goes viral, you're not getting sued. You're not even getting a letter. Nobody cares.

Dan Turner
Dan Turner Fine Art
Dan Turner's Seven Keys to Selling Art Online
To Enjoy Dan Turner's Pinterest Boards, Click Here


Posted by: Jim Poulos on 06/26/2013 - 9:21 PM

Also note that the HOPE poster case had nothing to do with using the likeness of a famous person. The case was about copying someone else's photograph of that famous person. Big difference.


Posted by: Roz Abellera on 06/26/2013 - 9:52 PM

That's the thing though Jim, a lot of people have made artwork based on a famous person without realizing that the photograph that they used to create their work from is protected by copyright. I'm just saying, even if you might be able to get away with it, why bother with something like that if you have the potential chance of getting sued? Even if you get away with it, who needs the hassle?


This discussion is closed.