Using various music band logos in larger work

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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Do52ie
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Using various music band logos in larger work

Post by Do52ie »

Hello all,
Can I produce a piece of commercial art featuring several music/band logos?

For example, if I wanted to create a poster about UK “Ska” bands from 1982, could I purchase several T-shirts featuring the Ska band logos, arrange and photograph them and then sell the resulting image?

If I was to paint the artwork rather than photograph it, would that be different?

Many thanks
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AndyJ
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Re: Using various music band logos in larger work

Post by AndyJ »

Hi Do52ie and welcome,

There are two separate aspects to this question. If the logo is sufficiently original it may well qualify for copyright purposes as an artistic work. If that is the case then despite it's relative age, it will still be in copyright for many years. So unless you feel that you adaptation of it might qualify as a parody or pastiche, then I would suggest you need to be careful and do a little research into who might have designed the logo(s) and see if they will give permission for what you want to do. If the band still exists, you could go through their management to get permission. Making an adaptation of a copyright is normally something which needs the permission of the copyright owner.

The second aspect is to do with whether the logo was ever registered as a trade mark. In my experience this would be fairly rare where bands are concerned, unless they made a lot of money from their merch. If they did register the logo and it has been used in the course of trade during the past 5 years, you risk infringing that trade mark unless you make it very clear when selling your artwork that the work is not authorised merch, or in any way connected to the band. Even if the logo was not registered as trade mark, you may also face problems over passing off, so again a strong dsclaimer would be required. That said if the band no longer perform or sell albums/merch then neither trade mark nor passing off are likely to cause you problems. By combining a number of different band logos in single painting etc you also reduce any chance of a trade mark or passing off claim simply because the buying public are not going to be confused about the origin of the goods since the image will refer to multiple sources.

As for the medium you use, that really doesn't matter.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
Do52ie
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Re: Using various music band logos in larger work

Post by Do52ie »

Thank you for your very helpful reply. Plenty for me to ponder here.
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