Robot 6

Comic Couture | The Bat that saved Pittsburgh and more

Our first shirt comes from a mystical, magical place known as Pittsburgh. Believe Merch has many shirts celebrating the Steel City, but only one that also spotlights Gotham. This one is currently on sale for $23.99.

And finally, we’ll end our T-shirt tour in Canada, with this shirt from WeLoveFine.com featuring everyone’s favorite prickly speedster, Northstar. “Paving the way since 1992.” That refers, of course, to Northstar’s outing in Alpha Flight #106; his first appearance was actually in 1979.

For more history lessons and, of course, T-shirts, check back next week.

Note: The Hellboy shirt I had on here is a knockoff, so I’ve removed it.

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Comments

5 Comments

You should note that the Hellboy shirt is a knock off product. I understand that Mike Mignola and Dark Horse comics are currently trying to get the shirt taken down because it is not a licensed product.

Why are T-shirt companies so bad at understanding copyright laws?

I’ve been wondering for a long time how these T-shirt companies like Teefury get away with this, and why no one in fandom cares that their shirts are not authorized. Every time Urban Outfitters or the like steals a cartoon, the pitchforks come out (as they should), but if it’s Dr. Who dressed as Adventure Time, that’s cool! We want that!

That Hellboy shirt is theft, pure and simple.

Thanks guys … I removed the Hellboy shirt from the post.

One of the many reasons I like teefury is because we can get cool designs that the main companies aren’t making, and it’s only $10. Plus, since virtually all of them fall under the category of parody, they’re not breaking any laws.

That’s cool that you took it down, JK. Thanks.

David, that’s a very gray area. That Hellboy shirt is not parody. It’s not even close. It’s using intellectual property in a manner that is in keeping in line with the branding that already exits. A good number of the shirts by Teefury and similar companies aren’t really parody either, and from a legal standpoint, they would have a hard time proving otherwise. Keep in mind, one of the first rules of proving a parody as being within fair use is whether or not your version is “transformative,” that the material has been appropriated in such a way as to make a point outside the usual perception of it. In this case, Hellboy is not; the Tony Stark shirt where it was a gentlemen’s club, or whatever it was, most likely is not, either. Mignola and Marvel could conceivably make the same products themselves in a straight licensing deal. But even past the first test, T-shirt companies would have to justify the fact that these shirts are created for commercial gain, how much of their parody is reliant on pre-existing material, and also answer charges regarding how their product creates marketplace confusion and can harm the copyright owner’s ability to sell his own product. In other words, what if Mike Mignola already had a BPRD recruitment shirt?

Regardless, Teefury are using the work of others and their name recognition for their personal profit, and they are banking on fans not knowing about the dubious legality and the big companies not noticing the infringement in time. You said it yourself: its designs you like that the company’s aren’t making, which only goes to prove that they are using market confusion as a sales tool. And as I mentioned in my original post, just because it might be cool or a person wants it, doesn’t make it right for them to make it.

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