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Legal issues with fan sites?

Discussion in 'On the Web' started by Michael Meier, Jul 27, 2011.

  1. Michael Meier

    Michael Meier New Member

    Hi folks,

    I am a big Muppets fan and am thinking about combining two of my hobbies. I love to travel and I have a Ms Piggy puppet. My idea is to take pictures with Ms Piggy while I am travelling and put them on a web page. I have seen other webites doing the same with various other puppets and I found this idea brilliant. I have no idea about the potential legal issues of this idea. Am I allowed to take pictures of a muppet character and put them on a website? Am I allowed to use the original name of the Muppet character? Can I call the website something like travellingmspiggy.com?

    I know there are tons of websites which use pictures of Muppet characters, but are they all legal? Does anybody know if the Disney company is okay with these fan sites or will they send me lawyers if I have such a website?

    Any comments and help is highly appreciated!

  2. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    I've had a website with Disney-bases material online since 1995, and I've never heard a peep from Disney legal about it. In fact, when I ran an Internet mailing list for Disney fan art and fic, several of my subscribers were Disney.com addresses.

    I always followed several rules for my fan sites: always acknowledge copyrights, always make it clear that my site is a fan site and not at all official, don't make any money off the the properties, and do not defame the properties. If sites give the copyright owners no reason to get annoyed, they don't bother to sic the lawyers on you, and in fact often regard you as free advertising or even allies.

    The only thing I see as potentially problematic with your idea, so long as you make it very clear on every page that yours is a fan site, is the URL. Disney might get a little squicky about a URL with Miss Piggy's name (or a close facsimile) in it not being under their control. However, they don't own "piggy" by itself, so perhaps "travelingpiggy.com"?

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