Copyright when designing Stained Glass


I just started my stained glass business and mostly sell from face book. I use my own patterns or from pattern books that say you can reproduce and sell. I now have requests for Tweety Bird, Mickey Mouse and IU basketball. I can’t find patterns, I know I can make them from pictures, is this something I can do?

Milly’s reply:

Disney are renowned for protecting their very valuable rights, so I would be very, very careful if I were you!

Apparently you can use things to teach, parody or in a newscast (briefly), but as you’d be reproducing their characters for commercial gain without their permission I don’t think you’d have a leg to stand on if they found out. It’s up to you whether you take that risk, but I wouldn’t advise it! You might just be the person they find to make ‘an example’ of.

I’m not qualified to answer this with any lawyers’ knowledge, just fear! Anyone out there with more substantial information?

PS found this clever YouTube video whilst looking for the answer, might help and make you laugh:

A Fair(y) Use Tale


2 thoughts on “Copyright when designing Stained Glass”

  1. I used to teach students about copyright in terms of citation, plagiarism, fair use, and the Creative Commons.

    Often changing a few elements of a design can work to make it “yours” and not “theirs.” For example, I have a shirt that has the Pantone Color Codes for various Muppets — so it’s not reproducing the Muppets, just echoing them via their typical colors. Another shirt reproduces a patent-filing image for proto-kermit — patents in the U.S. are public domain after 20 years, which includes their drawings.

    Lots of people sell Mouse Ears on etsy — they’re just “inspired by” Minnie Mouse and various other Disney movies/properties — that may be the way to handle a request for a Mickey suncatcher — You can do three circles (like the “hidden mickeys”), but perhaps in your friend’s favorite color, or to also look like a Maryland flag. Do a realistic yellow canary (of the finch family) for Tweety (wikimedia always has public domain images you can use as a starting source.)

    For the IU basketball, check with the college itself — they might be willing to license their colors/logo to you and you can become the official stained-glass-artist of their teams! If that’s not possible, then perhaps you can have just SIMILAR colors. Like for University of Maryland, I can google their official team colors ( ) , but because I want to AVOID copyright infringement, I would make sure that my red is perhaps a little more pink, the gold a softer yellow, so that there’s still a red/yellow contrast, but it’s distinct enough to NOT be mistaken for official merchandise. (Really, for something local though, I advocate contacting them and seeing if you CAN become official. What’s the worst that can happen?)

    I hope this helps.

    • This is a fantastic help April, thank you SO much for taking all that time to help everyone out. I really appreciate it 🙂


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