using song lyric snippets for creative clothing

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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using song lyric snippets for creative clothing

I know its a risky business endeavor, but I wanted advice anyways because its
something I’m passionate about. Is it possible to start my own screen printing t-
shirt business using dancehall/reggae song lyric snippets? I would be
conducting out of MA.

Asked on October 30, 2016 under Business Law, Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If you do this, legally you are violating the copyright of the rights holders (the singers and/or labels) and could be sued; there is no legal right to sue even snippets of songs for a comercial endeavor (e.g. a T-shirt business) without paying the rights owners.
Practically, they might never become aware of what you are doing or take action, so you might be fine. But be aware you are gambling--you *could* be sued, and the lawsuit could include taking all your profits and getting a court order requiring you to stop doing this and destroy your merchandise.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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