Can I take parts of books and make them into other products? 10 Answers as of March 31, 2013

I have a small crafting hobby where I take discarded books, VCR tapes, records, or food cartons cut them up, add blank paper, spiral bind them and make unique, one-of-a-kind spiral bound blank journals. I also take book pages or pictures and make them into unique coasters. Is this a violation of copyright/trademark? I am only using discarded items and recycling them into a totally, unique item. We have been asked to supply these items on a small scale to several gift shops. Are we okay with this?

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Webb IP Law Group
Webb IP Law Group | Jason P Webb
I don't see a problem with it, based on what you have said.
Answer Applies to: Utah
Replied: 3/31/2013
Law Office of Kirk Buhler
Law Office of Kirk Buhler | Kirk A Buhler
As long as you don't reproduce the document you should be OK because the creator of the work was paid when the book or picture was produced. The only potential problem may be with a company that sells similar products, and you use the trademarked name. This may cause confusion in the market place. You might want to avoid trademarks unless you know they are not supplying similar products. As an example, using the FORD mark on a coaster would probably be acceptable.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 3/27/2013
Mark S. Hubert PC
Mark S. Hubert PC | Mark Hubert
If you had paid for the book perhaps there would be a different answer BUT you did not pay for the book and are selling pictures from the book. That is how the original author makes his money. I feel it is copyright infringement. Having said that the damages are minimal except for statutory damages which could amount to thousands.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 3/27/2013
Barton Barton & Plotkin
Barton Barton & Plotkin | Maurice Ross
You run a substantial risk of violating both copyright and trademark law. Ask yourself whether the use of the copyrighted works (such as book pages and pictures) and trademarks shown on the names of records of food cartons helps to increase the value of your "one-of-a-kind" blank journals. If so, you are probably violating copyright and trademark law. You might try to argue that you are protected by the "fair use" doctrine or that the works that you create are "transformative". But these are difficult arguments to make where you will be selling your items in gift shops. Further, even if a court would eventually agree with you that your use of these materials is "fair use" or "transformative" or otherwise protected by the First Amendment, this would not stop you from being sued-and law suits are expensive. Thus, this is a risky project which you may wish to reconsider. At the very least, if you want to proceed with this project you should retain a written legal opinion from counsel on the issue of whether the use is "fair" and "transformative". By obtaining a professional legal opinion, you protect yourself against charges in the future that you were insensitive to the IP issues and engaged in willful, bad faith infringement. This would reduce the liability you might face in the event you were sued for infringement.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 3/27/2013
DANIEL NESBITT | Hasse & Nesbitt
What a unique idea. However, if you take a copyrighted image from a book, and convert it into something new, like a coaster, I expect that is a copyright infringement.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 3/27/2013
    Ochoa and Associates
    Ochoa and Associates | Susan Ochoa Spiering
    It depends on what items you are using to recycle and whether they are protected or not. If you are using a discarded Betty Boop, that would be a violation to recycle it into something else and sell it, since the cartoon Betty Boop is Trademark protected. Same with a Mickey Mouse or Marilyn Monroe likeness. If you are using a recycled leaf pattern, or abstract paint job, or something else, that is likely OK.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 3/27/2013
    Banner & Witcoff, Ltd. | Ernie Linek
    Owners of trademarks and/or copyrighted works used in your work might object. Under trademark law - use of another person's trademark can be made, especially if used in a non-trademark manner - as long as there is no likelihood of confusion to the public regarding the trademark owner's possible sponsorship or relationship with the new use. Under copyright law - you are seeking a "fair use" of the old books and other copyrighted materials.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 3/27/2013
    Sebby Law Office
    Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
    If you legally obtain the original objects, you can do whatever you want with them. One potential problem to avoid is associating someone?s likeness, trademark, or product (the cut up materials) with something so negative that it will cause the public to think badly about the person or company.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 3/27/2013
    Law Office of Mathew R. P. Perrone, Jr. | Mathew Roy Patrick Perrone, Jr.
    While you can use properly purchased patented item in any way choose, the same is not true of copyrighted and trademarked items. If the trademark or the copyright has not expired, you are safest if you get permission from the owner. If they have expired, then you are probably safe to use them. It is hard to answer this generically.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 3/27/2013
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