Copyright and shirt Designs...

Things have changed over the years at woot concerning this. At one time they were VERY timid about copyright characters and proper names.
Quidditch, Galifrey, etc. used to be big NO-NO’s at one time.
The baby yoda likeness, the Mandalorian helmet, etc. used to required careful prop placement… The ole goggles joke for us old timers.

What changed? What is allowed now? What should still be avoided? How does one even know?
Especially considering the upcoming pop culture bowl derby; copyright names are going to be used… for sure.

Is anyone even here? Hello?

We won’t print and brand names or logos, or any obviously trademarked or copyrighted material - as best we know.

Our current ‘policy’ is that we will fairly liberally accept artwork, and it is the artist’s risk to put it up for sale. If we get a C&D we will take it down, whether it’s been up for 5 minutes or 5 years. It is on the artist to do their due diligence to research what is not allowed by each IP they are parodying, and subsequently take on the risk.

Thanks, that helps a bit. I just know that at one time woot was far more squeamish than it seems to be right now.
Are you worried about proper names being used in the upcoming derby (pop culture bowl). I have seen quite a few shirts on woot that I thought for certain were tipping over the line.
I have a few ideas for said derby, but most of them have names that I would think could incur a C&D pretty fast.
Like I said previously, I thought Quidditch and Galifrey were taboo, but I see some up for sale on woot.
Like I wouldn’t have the nerve to even try this shirt.

I won’t (not) speak for @Lady5tark, but by not providing specific guidance on the issue, Woot avoids the risk of being wrong. As noted, anything which blatantly violates a copyright or TM will be rejected; beyond that…who’s to say where a trademark ends and art/parody begins?----certainly not Woot (anymore). By virtue of Woot’s decision NOT to be the judge on this issue, the risk of infringing on a protected mark remains on the artist (which, of course, is further set out in the contract signed when a design is submitted).

Based on your post, it appears Woot previously took an ultra conservative approach of rejecting anything that could violate a mark. This not only limited the artist’s designs, but it also limited Woot’s profits. In addition, it placed a heavy burden on Woot to scrutinize each design and make a case by case judgment call on every shirt. As Woot scaled, this likely became both unsustainable from a resource standpoint and undesirable from a business perspective. Further, as digital printing evolved and “print to order” became the standard, there was much less risk if a C&D were received. Woot could simply stop printing the shirt; they weren’t stuck with the screen print set up expense and a large stock of printed shirts which could not be sold.

So Woot (correctly in my opinion) sits in the sweet spot; accepting all but the most clear ripoffs and pulling a design immediately upon receipt of a valid challenge. @Narfcake can correct me if I am wrong, but I think that in the tee shirt game, there is actually very little enforcement as reflected in the fantastic array of “pop culture” designs available here and elsewhere. Of course, I’m sure there are some owners who are overprotective of their marks which may explain the absence of designs which you may otherwise expect to see.

Back in the days, the editors did make such judgement calls. One former artist skirted the line regularly, hence even getting a write-up that said:

At least when I’m not in the Factory of Recycled Pop Culture References, anyway.
“You mean that big smoking building over there that’s shaped like a dollar sign and seems to be choking the life out of everything that surrounds it with a thick black fog of mediocrity?”

Granted, the stakes (volume) was much higher too; heck, even Hollywood was watching, hence all the shirt.woot sightings in various shows then.

It happens from time to time, but it does appear that the IP holders have been more “lenient” in recent years. The “problem” is if the original IP holder(s) go on a C&D spree, they get looked upon as a “bully”.

Anyways for some reading material:

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Excellent article, thanks for sharing. Answered a lot of questions I had.