Thursday, July 26, 2012

Can Band T-Shirt Feature Movie Quote

Dear Rich: I am in a band and we want to use a movie quote -- "They always grow louder when they're about to feed on human flesh" -- from The Princess Bride. The quote comes from a scene where a character is warning another of the presence of "the shrieking eels." The idea for the shirt would be to have the name of the band on the front with a custom drawing of two eels (not taken from the movie), and the quote would go on the back. Is this violating copyright laws? No, assuming your band is not named "Princess Bride" your t-shirts should not cause any copyright or trademark problems. It's true that in some cases, a movie company may go after someone who uses a quote on merchandise (as one studio did with "E.T. Phone Home") but we don't think this will occur here because of the obscurity of the quote (it didn't make into the film's memorable quote list) and because you don't reference the Princess Bride title. By the way, we've written about using movie quotes on t-shirts in a previous entry.