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I started working on my own designs to sell and had someone come and asked me if I could put a classic Winnie the Pooh image in my design.

I am selling the whole piece to this customer, but can I sell it to them if I put the Winnie the Pooh image on the poster?

I was going to purchase the image on Etsy but I know that it's copyrighted so I'm not sure if I'm able to do that.

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This is a question for a lawyer... but if it were me... absolutely not. –  Scott Apr 12 at 0:44
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Disney owns Winnie. They have lawyers. Lots of them. That said, people pay for one-off custom things all the time featuring copyrighted characters (such as a mural for one's nursery). Just don't let Disney find out. :) –  DA01 Apr 12 at 3:03
    
Disney owns their version of Winnie the Pooh. Methuen owns the original Shepard drawings and of course, you can draw your own which are bound to be very similar... –  Andrew Leach Apr 12 at 7:54
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That user at Etsy could find they are in trouble. Chances are slim they'll be caught, but what they are doing is an infringement of the Disney copyrights, regardless of all their mumbjo jumbo. They are making money off the use of a copyrighted image. It is more amusing that they also try and implement some sort of copyright protection for themselves when they are clearly infringing upon others. –  Scott Apr 16 at 20:19
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What you should do is explain to your client that you can not use Disney characters without Disney permission. There's no room for negotiation on that. See here: graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/26844/… –  Scott Apr 16 at 20:21

2 Answers 2

There is a lot of very valuable information on the comments, so I summarized them (very shortly) here to keep this question from being marked as unanswered.

Winnie The Pooh is a Disney copyrighted character, and as such can't be used for commercial purposes without acquiring the proper rights for it. The images available on Etsy that you mention, even if they say they are for personal use, are infringing the law.

Related question:

How to handle client requests to violate copyrights?

(mandatory) Note: I am not a lawyer.

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A.A. Milne died in 1956. But Disney's idea of copyright is the lifetime of Mickey Mouse, plus 70 years. Sometimes I forget how important and rational the law is...always nice when people retain ownership of things that architect your mind, especially things they didn't create themselves! "Life. Do you want to continue?" –  HostileFork Apr 24 at 5:37
    
Disney's idea of copyright is "Ours, all ours, forever and ever and ever!" –  DA01 Apr 24 at 6:20
    
Unfortunately it's not only Disney's. Copyright was conceived to enable creators of intellectual wealth to financially support themselves, now anything is subject to copyright/patents, from a round-cornered rectangle to basmati rice. –  Yisela Apr 24 at 7:05

You need not to be a lawyer for this, copyright is NOT patent. You might want to look at Berne Convention and its applicability.

Berne Convention, Berne also spelled Bern, formally International Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, international copyright agreement adopted by an international conference in Bern (Berne) in 1886 and subsequently modified several times (Berlin, 1908; Rome, 1928; Brussels, 1948; Stockholm, 1967; and Paris, 1971). Signatories of the Convention constitute the Berne Copyright Union.

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Welcome to the community user22557, when answering questions try to elaborate a bit more. When you answer so short, especially without much rep, it gets flagged for review. If you expand on the answer for example how the Berne Convention applies its less likely to be flagged for removal and may even be marked the correct answer. –  Ryan Apr 24 at 16:22

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