Sporting Event Copyright Help! Premier League

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
Post Reply
toptoptop
New Member
New  Member
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Oct 05, 2016 10:26 am

Sporting Event Copyright Help! Premier League

Post by toptoptop » Wed Oct 05, 2016 10:33 am

As part of a (mainly-charitable) fundraising effort I'd like to produce and sell some tribute tshirts featuring images of some of the cult heroes of my beloved football club.

So these would basically be on-pitch images from the mid-1990's of (at the time) Premier League footballers, printed onto tshirts with the name of the player in text below.

I have permission from the photographers in question to use the images for this purpose however, my question is, do I also need permission from the pictured player or the football club? Beyond this, is there any issue with the image including the logo of the kit manufacturer and kit sponsor etc?

We're talking about fairly obscure players here so I'd expect permission to be obtainable if contact could be established but I'd like to know my permission legally.

Any help incredibly gratefully received!

User avatar
AndyJ
Oracle
Oracle
Posts: 1942
Joined: Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:43 am

Post by AndyJ » Wed Oct 05, 2016 11:20 am

Hi toptoptop,

I think your analysis is right: there would appear to be no direct copyright implications as you have the photographer's permission to use his images.

However when it comes to the players, it would be entirely sensible to try an get their permission also, just to avoid a chance that one or more of them objects to being linked to your chosen charity. Some years ago the racing driver Eddie Irvine sued a radio station for using his image in adverts for the station in a way which implied that he endorsed the station. This case was brought under the common law tort of passing off, and Irvine won. I don't think there is any need to seek the permission of the players' club(s).

There shouldn't be any problem reproducing the sponsor's logos, as effectively they would be getting additional advertising from your project, But you may face a problem over the inclusion of the club's and / or the Premier League's logos on the player's shirts, if these are visible. Once again there is a precedent for this. In that case, players wearing their team shirts were featured on collectable stickers. The makers of the stickers were sued by the Premier League for infringement of copyright in their logo, and the Premier League won. As getting permission to use the logos may involve paying a licence fee, it might be better to consider erasing the logos from the photographs before printing the tee shirts.
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

toptoptop
New Member
New  Member
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Oct 05, 2016 10:26 am

Post by toptoptop » Wed Oct 05, 2016 12:18 pm

That's fantastic advice Andy. Thanks so much.

toptoptop
New Member
New  Member
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Oct 05, 2016 10:26 am

Post by toptoptop » Fri Oct 07, 2016 12:07 pm

Just to expand slightly on your point re club/league badges; is clarity of image an issue here?

On some of the images I'm working with the League badges are visible but are too far out of the main focus of the image to be legible or readable.

Somebody familiar with the logo would be able to identify it (particularly given the context of the image) but somebody completely unfamiliar with the logo absolutely would not.

Could this reasonably be expected to change the copyright obligations of 'using' the badge at all?

Thanks!

User avatar
AndyJ
Oracle
Oracle
Posts: 1942
Joined: Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:43 am

Post by AndyJ » Fri Oct 07, 2016 1:08 pm

hi top3

Funnily enough when I wrote 'visible' in my last post, I did think about exactly the question you have raised, but thought I wouldn't complicate things by discussing it in detail.

As far as copyright is concerned that if a logo is so indistinct that someone less familiar with it would not recognise it, then what has been copied is not a substantial amount of the original so would not be infringement.

However when it comes to trade marks and passing off, the court would consider the position of someone who was familiar with the mark, and whether they might be confused into thinking that because the Anytown United FC logo was on your tee shirts, that meant that they were official merchandise licensed by the club, and thus in your case, this might amount to infringement.

On that basis, it would probably be best to edit out the logo unless you can get permission to use it. I'm taking a cautious approach because Premier League clubs tend to be very merchandise/brand aware and are much more likely to object to anything they see as encroaching on their turf, not because your venture is a real threat, but because if they don't take action in your case, it makes it harder to deal with the next time it happens, when the issue might be over replica shirts or similar.
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

Post Reply