Marketing This Brings Trouble
Living in Seattle brings out a lot of sports fans. More than I’ve seen in other areas I’ve lived. The energy and excitement for the local teams are quite contagious. So much so, that people use sports teams and images in their marketing. This will bring TROUBLE!
Think about it this way, this is a huge money maker for sports teams. They sell and license their merchandise and images because it generates revenue. Using their images or logos without paying is theft. So, if you really want an image you need to buy it from a reputable source and state how you will use the image. With this said, please don’t think just because you’re a small business the rules don’t apply to you or if no one told you about said rules, you are safe from trouble. YOU’RE NOT SAFE!
They are watching. Since this is big business – they monitor everything. They have money to do so. You won’t have a warning shot, it will not be a backoff letter (cease and desist), it will be straight to a lawsuit. Yeah, especially if you are messing with the big boys.
Remember, this is theft. Would you walk into a store, take something, and leave without paying? No? Then don’t do this. You won’t just get a fine of $150,000 for a copyright violation, you’ll go to jail. Do not pass go, go directly to jail. No misunderstandings, this is serious.
You say, “how about if my customer asks for me to add the sports team logo to a project?” The answer is still “NO”. It is still a crime and you are a part of it. If your customer has a license to use it – great, but have them prove it to you. There is no reason to take the chance that you are committing a crime for one job. Sure your client may go somewhere else and get the work done, that’s their concern. Your family, business, and future will thank you.
So, how do you know what is okay, simply if you have to ask if it is legal it is likely not! To be completely safe, consult an attorney if you are unsure.