actor/model Emily Ratajkowski. Among the wide-legged pants, crop tops and mesh dresses in the Nasty Gal X Emrata line are two t-shirts. At a glance, most would recognize the images asthe album cover
and an archival photo ofMick Jagger of
The Rolling Stones.
How did Nasty Gal get around using images ofPrince
in the collection? The use of the images doesn’t fall underparody in
copyright law. Nasty Gal has had its share oflegal battles
regarding copyright infringement, and both properties areextremely
. The risk was worth it, as both shirts are now sold out.
This isn’t the first time an apparel line has used another property’s image in a collection. It’s what madeSupreme
such a hot commodity in the last 10 years. While the label worked with companies on several collaborations, it’s the limited quantity of the collections that makes the brand white-hot among the streetwear
Before Supreme, There Was FUCT
This streetwear brand has been repurposing its name in logos ranging from Ford to KISS since the early ‘90s. However, it was a request to trademark its hard-to-pronounce name, not its designs, that got the brand in the news when it brought its case to the Supreme Court–whichruled in favor of FUCT
Fashion Copyright Infringement Isn’t Just in Streetwear
DesignerMarc Jacobs went
back to his roots last year with his Grunge Redux collection–including a t-shirt that caught the attention of Nirvana LLC. According toVogue Business
, Nirvana LLC is suing Jacobs for copyright infringement. Jacobs’ defense team claim his designs differ from Nirvana’s and–an interesting footnote–cited the tee as a tribute to the band, as the designer has personal relationships with Courtney Love (musician and widow of Nirvana’s frontman Kurt Cobain) and their daughter Francis Bean Cobain, who appeared in a past MJ campaign.
This is Licensing, Not Copyright Infringement
Does it pay for a fledgling apparel company to roll the dice and use an image without permission, or to work closely with a company to use their copyright? Either way, be prepared to spend money.
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