Homer Simpson Image at Website

22 02 2009

Thumbnail image for homer.jpg
Dear Rich: I have a question. Would I be allowed to have an image of a licenced character, let’s say Homer Simpson as an example on my website? The site will have Google adsense on there so technically I will be commercially exploiting a licensed character, even if the revenue will be quite small. What sort of copyright info would I need to display on my website as not to be in breach of any copyright rules and regs? I’m so glad you asked. Regardless of how little money you make at your site, using a character like Homer Simpson without permission will violate copyright laws and most likely violate trademark laws. That said, 20th Century Fox (Homer’s “owner”) appear to be somewhat tolerant of website reproductions of “stationery-frame” images — at least they were ten years ago based on this letter from Fox‘s lawyers). That letter also provides proprietary and disclaimer language that you can add at your site. Fox obviously polices unauthorized Simpsons’ uses (including infringements by the U.S.  government). But Fox’s hesitancy to go after single image reproductions of Simpsons characters may have something to do with angering fans, as well as the huge task of going after unauthorized images of Homer on the web.  (Our last Google image search showed 586,000. D’oh!). Nevertheless, the Dear Rich staff believes that if you wish to stay below Fox’s radar, one way would  be to avoid providing audio or video clips, or any other downloadable Simpsons materials.
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