What’s the Deal with Using Disney Intellectual Property?

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Disney Intellectual Property Information

Today we’re bringing you an article that is a little different from our usual style. When our shop first opened, we knew almost nothing about Disney intellectual property. All we knew was that there were thousands of other shops who used Mickey and Minnie on their products on Etsy. When we did some research, we found only some of the answers we were looking for.

There are bits and pieces of answers we were looking for, but we couldn’t find one place to read all about it. So, we are bringing you “what’s the deal with Disney intellectual property”. This article is written by us using a variety of sources including web pages, books, conversations with small shops, and advice from lawyers who reached out to us, or published information on the web.

That being said, this is an informational article and is NOT meant to advise you on any legal issues – just inform you. We are huge supporters of small shops, but we wanted to help you be as informed as possible before creating or continuing to sell any products!

What is “intellectual property”? 

Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce. Copyright Law gives a “bundle of rights” comprising the following exclusive rights:

  1. To reproduce the work
  2. To make derivative works of the work
  3. To distribute copies of the work to the public (sale, rental, lease, lending)
  4. To perform the work publicly
  5. To display the work publicly

Upcounsel defines the legal use of Disney intellectual property as follows.

Legal Use and Intellectual Property Protection of Disney Characters

The Disney Group takes Disney trademark infringement seriously and has copyright and trademark registrations to protect its characters. Anyone who wants to use the characters from the Disney franchise must follow all legal requirements to avoid infringing on the company’s intellectual property rights. The Disney Group and Walt Disney have created a series of extremely memorable and beloved fictional characters in modern culture.

A copyright exists to protect original works, such as books and movies, while trademarks protect brand names. A copyright or trademark owner for a character will help to prevent anyone else from using the same character without the owner’s permission.

Image result for disney copyright

What Disney characters are classified as Disney intellectual property?

It would be impossible to list every character, movie, ride, attraction, song, show, etc that falls under Disney intellectual property.

To sum it up, all intellectual property rights on the brands, characters, titles, and other properties of Disney are owned by the Walt Disney Company and its affiliates and cannot be used.

Disney’s anti-piracy clause restricts:

  • Titles
  • Feature-length motion pictures
  • Characters
  • Music
  • Games
  • Publications
  • Animated productions
  • Other elements from Disney productions

This would include Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Chip, Dale, the Disney villains, Disney princesses, Pixar characters, etc etc etc. Anything drawn or designed by Disney cannot be used.

Image result for disney animated characters

What about fairytale characters, like the original Alice in Wonderland?

Disney has adapted many old fables and fairy tales into their hit movies. For example, Alice in Wonderland. Alice in Wonderland was written in 1865 by Lewis Carroll. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the original book, has long since lapsed into the public domain. It can be freely used and reproduced.

Disney’s movie version, and any images and music from it, will not lapse into the public domain for decades yet. It was released in 1951, so the earliest it might enter the public domain is 2046. However, Disney has a track record of lobbying for, and obtaining, copyright extensions when its earliest copyrights are nearing expiration, however, so the actual expiration date on the movie may be much later. Technically, Mickey should have lapsed into the public domain by now, but Disney has obtained multiple copyright extensions to keep him outside of the public domain.

So, this image of Alice in Wonderland could be used on your products and sold.

Alice in Wonderland - Public Domain

But this image, seen below, could not.

Alice in Wonderland - Copyright

Is this a way around the intellectual property laws?

Ask a lot of small shops, and they will say their products are “inspired by” Disney. This statement is true, but this does not mean that you are in any way safe from a cease-and-desist letter from Disney. This is not a blanket statement, but for the most part, if you use a character that was drawn or invented by Disney, you can be sued by the company. Writing “inspired by” does not keep you safe.

What does keep you safe is if that product is “inspired by” but not a copy of a Disney character. For example, if you sell Disney-inspired bows, you could have a Cinderella bow with blue and white, and little mice running around the top. You could not have the mice be Jack and Gus-Gus, or an image of the Disney version of Cinderella on the bow.

Another common statement is that your product is considered “fan art“. Fan art is absolutely okay to make and share. However, if you are drawing an almost exact replica of a Disney character, you cannot sell your fan art. There are no protections for selling fan art that is a near copy of a Disney character.

A third common statement is fair use. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, fair use refers to limited circumstances when it may be permissible to make reference to or reproduce a sample of a protected character without getting permission from Disney. One example of fair use could be a critical review of a Disney movie that included an image of a character from the movie (Legal Zoom).

Can “fair-use” or derivative work protect you? In terms of derivative work, some argue that you can transform an image enough from its original form to not be an identical copy, and thus be “derivative work”. While derivative work does exist, it is extremely unlikely you will be able to use Disney-inspired characters from this “loop hole”. Disney has copyrighted images in one source says “15 ways from Sunday” to prevent you from doing this. Contrary to popular belief, an intellectual property lawyer shared that you can’t just change X number of elements or a certain percentage and claim it is new and unique. If something is recognizable as let’s say, Mickey Mouse, then it is infringing.

Many listings have “not affiliated with Disney” written at the bottom. Sadly, this does nothing, other than make it clear to customers you are a small shop. It will not protect you from a cease-and-desist from Disney.

How is everyone getting away with this?

If you search “Disney” on Etsy, there are thousands of shops that come up selling products with Mickey Mouse, princesses, and more. Many of these shops are using Disney intellectual property.

The reason they are able to get away with it has never been stated by Disney, and could change at any moment. What we do know is that Disney does go after shops who could be taking away a larger portion of their (Disney’s) sales and they can, and do, go after even the smallest of shops who violate their copyright. Just a year ago Disney sent a cease-and-desist to a shop selling passholder magnets with Disney characters who had less than 5,000 sales on Etsy.

Image result for disney cease and desist

How does Disney pick what shops to issue a cease-and-desist?

This information is not offered up by Disney. But, the likely answer from several sources we spoke with is that Disney will issue a cease-and-desist to a shop that is large enough to be taking away some of their sales. The Disney community has a range of shops, from young teens selling their handmade crafts on Etsy, to shops with tens of thousands of sales who have manufacturers, websites, and more. It is more likely for Disney to go after those shops with tens of thousands of sales, but that does not mean they will not go after smaller shops. The only way to prevent an issue like this is to not violate Disney’s intellectual property.

Disney has an email address and phone number that you can call to report shops and organizations who could be violating their intellectual property. A source told us that they get hundreds of emails and calls a day, and will periodically do a “sweep” of Etsy and other online shops. The same source further stated that shops who have been reported multiple times are more likely to “catch the eye” of Disney.

An official memo from Disney says:

“Disney takes the enforcement of these rights very seriously. We protect these rights so that we can continue to provide quality entertainment that measures up to the standards that our audience has come to love and expect. We welcome reports of suspected infringement of any of these rights.

Please direct reports to us via one of the following methods:
Email: tips@disneyantipiracy.com

Voice Mail: 818-560-3300

Mail: The Walt Disney Company Antipiracy Group

500 South Buena Vista Street

Burbank, California


What happens if I get a cease-and-desist?

A cease-and-desist is a letter from Disney notifying a shop owner of their infringement and is the first step to ask an individual or business to stop the illegal activity. The purpose of the letter is to threaten further legal action if the behavior does not stop.

If you get a cease-and-desist letter from Disney, you have to immediately stop selling your ‘illegal’ products. These products cannot be sold ever again. You may be asked to “destroy” the products, and in some cases you are required to show proof of the disposal of your inventory. You may be required to pay a portion of sales to Disney. You will be on Disney’s radar from this point on, and if you continue to violate IP, you could be sued.

An example someone shared with us about a cease and desist they received from Disney.

“I used to hand paint toms shoes with Disney characters and sell them on Etsy. I got a cease and desist letter which I declined (I was a dumb college kid at the time) who said because I was free-handing the images they were my artistic representation of characters. I got sued for 20k”.

The best way to avoid a cease-and-desist is to not sell products that violate Disney intellectual property. 

Image result for disney animation

Is there a way to legally use Disney intellectual property?

There is, but unfortunately, it is unlikely. In order to use Disney’s characters, you must first get their permission.

Legal Zoom says: “One way to legally use Disney characters is by getting permission to use them from Disney Enterprises. A variety of Disney corporate entities own the intellectual property rights to Disney characters. The official Disney website can help you determine who owns rights to the character you wish to use and how to seek permission to legally use the character. You may receive permission in the form of a letter or an email message. Disney may require an individual or organization that wants to make extended commercial use of Disney characters to enter into a licensing agreement where the user pays Disney for rights to use the character. Disney may also refuse to give you permission to use its characters.”

The likelihood of Disney giving you permission to use their characters is very slim. There have been shops who have been successful with this, most notably Danielle Nicole Handbags, Cakeworthy, and The Mouse Merch Box (one of the first, if not the first, to be approached by Disney rather than approaching the company themselves). However, most shops will not have any success requesting permission to use characters.

Can I make mouse ears, or use the Mickey silhouette?

Mouse ears are a definite yes. There are a vast amount of shops who sell mouse ears, and they are legally allowed to. Disney does not own the rights to mouse ears. What they do own the rights to is Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse. So, while ears are okay, the silhouette (including the head of the mice) is not okay. Likewise, anything that resembles the likeness of a character is not okay. If you reproduce Mickey Mouse, or something that looks like Mickey Mouse, you could be violating their copyright.

This is a definite grey area, and can get confusing. If you have more questions, the best place to get answers is an intellectual property lawyer.

Image result for shop disney ears

Can I use Disney fabric to make my products?

According to a lawyer on Avvo, a notice of “copyright” may be found printed on fabric. The 9th circuit Court of Appeals has addressed the existence of a protectable copyright in United Fabrics Intern., Inc. v. C& J Wear, Inc., 630 F.3d 1255 (9th Cir. 2011). Thus buying fabric or cloth for the purpose of manufacturing or making crafts for sale will likely require a license. The Asker should contact the manufacturer of the fabric to determine their requirements for use of their fabric in making craft items for sale.”

To use the fabric commercially, you may need to obtain an additional license. The best advice is to do your research before you make any products out of a Disney fabric, including contacting the manufacturer of the fabric, reading the tags, or doing further research.

Image result for disney fabric

So what can I sell?

There are many limitations when selling Disney inspired products. The best answer to this question is, be creative. Do not use Disney characters in your designs. Be creative and find what inspires you in the parks or movies, and find a way to make that a product or inspire your designs.

If you choose to use Disney IP, know that you are putting yourself and your business at risk. It is never too late to stop using intellectual property. Even if you have been using it for years, taking it down now is better than keeping it up.

What about Disney tags and titles?

Using Disney trademarks (the words “Disney”, “Mickey Mouse” etc) anywhere in the listing (title, description and tags) is trademark infringement. It doesn’t even matter what the item is or whether it uses any Disney characters. By the simple fact of Disney’s lawyers searching for their trademarks, and finding them, has proved trademark infringement. Be creative with your titles – instead of saying “Mickey Mouse Shirt” you can say “Mouse Shirt” or “Magical Mouse Shirt”. Likewise, avoid using trademarked words in your tags.

More questions?

Avvo is a great source where lawyers can contribute answers or advice based on questions. However, the only way to know for sure is to contact an intellectual property lawyer. If you are a growing Disney-themed shop, we recommend taking this step to answer any questions you have.

If you have feedback, questions, comments, or advice, let us know in the comments of this article!

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  1. Susan Holmes says:

    This was really helpful thank you! I always wondered how they chose which shops to prosecute. Clearly shows, better safe than sorry!

    1. themouselets says:

      Exactly! Better to do the right thing, even if the chance of getting “caught” is low. You never know!

  2. Bibbidi Box Shop says:

    Great article. My question is, why wouldn’t Disney allow small shops to license their intellectual property? Wouldn’t it just make them more money, considering the huge number of shops who are using the intellectual property without their permission? It just seems like that would be easier than going after shops and pursuing legal action.

    1. themouselets says:

      That’s a great question, and we unfortunately don’t have the answer. Likely, they do not want to allow others to profit from their own designs, when they could sell a similar product and make 100% of the money. Also, they would have to regulate every submitted design with a licensed product, which would not be possible with thousands of shops.

    2. Austin says:

      As someone who is in the process of licensing and talks to ournlicense manager frequently, Disney doesn’t need any more licensees at this point, unless it is a standout product. They’re not going to take another handbag, backpack, wallet company because they have 6. They don’t need another apparel company because they have so many, etc. And like they said, it’s a lot of time to license and they don’t want to waste time. A lot of small shops cannot make the quantities Disney needs so they won’t try to license them.

    3. scott busbee says:

      because Disney does not want to be known for low quality crap. When someone buys a Disney product they want to know it is going to be a decent product. If you let any tom dick or harry make it you never know what kind of quality you are going to get. So the name Disney has been working hard to make for themselves all these years basiclly gets turned to “made in china” Also why would I go to Disney and pay 100 dollars for this item when all these Etsy stores have a crappy version of it for 10 bucks? See where I am getting at?

  3. Kathy St Germain says:

    Thank you for providing this information. While ideally I would want to contact an Intellectual Property Lawyer, for most small shops, that isn’t feasible. I like to think as a small shop, I am safe from legal action, but this made me think otherwise. The challenge is how can I remain successful while not using IP. Will someone still purchase from me if my ears have only subtle references to Cinderella, while other ears have images of her? It’s hard to say.

    Still, after reading the interview with the Etsy shop who painted shoes, it seems the best course of action is to not use Disney characters. Hopefully other shops follow suit.

    1. themouselets says:

      Agreed. The best way to protect yourself is to not use IP at all.

  4. Cindy says:

    Great article. I would love to see a follow-up piece with more information about the large Disney inspired shops who skirt right around using IP. Lost Bros, Bibbidi Bobbidi Brooke, etc.

    1. themouselets says:

      Thank you for reading, we’ll keep that in mind!

  5. The Disney Expeditioner says:

    I recently watched an Instagram live about a shop who had been issued a cease-and-desist from Disney for their magnets. They were using Disney characters with their products. From what you send, they are on Disney’s radar now. They reopened and have designs inspired by Disney, but use silhouettes. What is the line with using silhouettes? If it is easily recognizable as a Disney character, could that be an IP violation?

    I know Mickey is a no, but what about more obscure characters?

    1. themouselets says:

      Silhouettes are a definite grey area. The best thing to do is to consult an Intellectual Property lawyer with this question. Some silhouettes might be considered okay, while some might have the “likeness” of a Disney character and be violating intellectual property. For example, a silhouette of the old style Alice in Wonderland (image in our article) could be okay. Her silhouette may closely resemble the new Alice in Wonderland, and that would be one of those grey areas we are talking about.

  6. D says:

    What about using Disney promotional images in a blog about Disney travel? Could you use some of their PR images when talking about their products or resorts? When making Pinterest images to promote the blog post?

    1. themouselets says:

      That’s a great question! Sadly, there is no clear answer. Generally, if you give credit and link back, you won’t have an issue. But, legally, you need to look at the copyright of the image. If it is not labeled for “commercial reuse” you cannot use it. There’s an easy setting on google that you can set to look for images in the public domain!

  7. Mariana de la Selva says:

    What about Disney movie titles? Would I get in trouble if I want to start a digital magazine by the name of “the Jungle Book” or “Little Mermaid” Even if it’s not Disney related?

    1. themouselets says:

      Some Disney movies are protected, others are not. Disney has copyright over the Jungle Book and Little Mermaid, your best bet would be to search a trademark database. But when in doubt, don’t use Disney titles as they are typically copyrighted

  8. Jess says:

    Hi! Would selling an itinerary for a day at a Disney park without any official logos (but obviously would have the words like “Walt Disney World”, “Magic Kingdom”, “Splash Mountain”, “Big Thunder Mountain Railroad”, etc.), do you think it would be an issue? I feel like it would be under similar guidelines to writing a book about Disney World, but I’m also not sure how that would work either.

    1. The Mouselets says:

      Hi! I think you should be fine. I can’t see Disney coming after someone for doing that, but some of those phrases are copyrighted.

  9. Ewa Tinc says:

    Here’s a question… let’s say an individual does not advertise that they make Items using Disney character fabrics, but they do custom orders. Let’s say a said customer says… Can you please make THAT bag 💼, with Mickey Mouse fabric for me. What then?? The individual says sure… as long as you buy fabric and directly send it to me…
    the Transaction is for a custom piece… as Etsy allows on their site… “Custom Order”. What then?? Is the person infringing on the Trademarks or Copyrights??

    1. The Mouselets says:

      That’s a good question. Fabrics really vary with the manufacturer, so that part would need to be checked. But the likelihood of Disney ever coming after a shop like this seems very unlikely. The issue is mainly shops who are taking a portion of Disney’s income while using IP.

  10. Brienna says:

    I hate Jelsa (Elsa and Jack Frost) So I’d like to know where they stand on people PhotoShopping Elsa with DreamWorks Jack Frost.

    1. The Mouselets says:

      If any image of Elsa is being sold, that would be the issue! But photoshopping for fun or fan art would not be an issue.

      1. Brienna says:

        I thought they had to have permission to use and edit something of Disney’s and others actual film clips because of the misuse of their product? (Even if not selling)

        I did find something a couple months ago on DeviantArt where this person in another country bought a Jelsa bag at a mall. Now I know they didn’t have permission to sell something like that.

  11. Jennifer says:

    What about plain mouse ears with a bow in the centre. Would this be something allowed with no specific theme? Or is it too iconic?

    1. The Mouselets says:

      Mouse ears are okay, like the headbands with ears! A mouseketeer hat is a maybe, it can be flagged sometimes. But all headbands with ears are good to go!

  12. Natasha Garner says:

    Hi, I am a photographer and I am looking into teaming up with a local party company that provides characters for parties etc. They have princesses who are names “The Snow Sisters” and “The Sleepy Princess” etc. I want to offer shoots with these characters .. where do I stand with the Fair Use policy? They advertise their services a lot, and I would like to advertise using them on social media and through my website. Is there a way I can do this using language that makes it clear that I am not copying Disney at all, by using some kind of disclaimer about it being inspired by them.
    Thank you

  13. Bree says:

    Great post! Navigating IP law is daunting so it’s nice to have something specifically about Disney IP in one spot. I’m starting a blog about Disney and want to use Disney images to illustrate the points in my post. I see this post has some Disney images and uses it much the same way I intend to use it. Is that covered under fair use? I see other Disney blogs using Disney images as well and wondered if that’s legal. I know it seems silly to ask but better safe than sorry. Thank you!

    1. The Mouselets says:

      Using photos of Disney is okay – be sure to credit any photos you use that are not your own!

  14. Gilbert says:

    Hi can I ask does anyone know what the law is on artwork I dont create outright copies but draw children dressed in their favourite disney costumes so the character is not a disney character but is wearing a disney inspired costume??

  15. Suzanne Corker says:

    Would hand drawn pictures of Disney Parks be copy righted? Was wondering about images of rides.. Hotels etc. Have been trying to research this idea

    1. The Mouselets says:

      It would depend on the specific subject manner and what the pictures are being used for – i.e. are you selling them?

      1. Suzanne Corker says:

        She was hoping to sell if possible. She’s done the castle but we assumed that wouldn’t be allowed so was wondering about the rides etc

        1. The Mouselets says:

          That would be a grey area – I know that graphics of the People Mover do not violate IP. Spaceship Earth would be fine, as there are many other geodesic domes out there that look just like it. Other attractions I cannot say with certainty.

  16. Linda Thurlwell says:

    I have been doing one off paintings of Disney characters to sell in my charity shop to raise some money for the charity. Is this an infringement of copyright laws

    1. The Mouselets says:

      Yes, if you are using Disney characters it is infringement, even if it is for charity

  17. J says:

    Is personal use okay? For example using a google image of Woody to make a tshirt for grandson?

    1. The Mouselets says:

      That would be okay to use!

  18. Alexandra Rivera says:

    I am a realtor who helps folks by and sell vacation rentals near Disney world. Would it be OK to use a silhouette of a mouse and use the phrase “near Disney world” on my Facebook, Google and YouTube pages?

    1. The Mouselets says:

      You cannot use a silhouette that resembles Mickey or Minnie. To my knowledge, you can say near Disney World because that is a location, you are not branding it as Disney. I frequently see Zillow say “near Disney World” and other large websites.

  19. Janet J says:

    What about using the name Mickey in a brand name like Mickey’s *** …is using Mickey without the mouse ok? If that brand resells disney licensed product is it safe to use the Name Mickey in the title?

    1. The Mouselets says:

      If the brand sells licensed Disney products, that would be a specific conversation between Disney and the company. You can use Mickey in the title, because Disney owns “Mickey Mouse” not Mickey. But, be careful to not brand it as anything else Disney, and make sure the product doesn’t include any IP.

  20. Emma says:

    Where do you stand if you’ve bought things like official Disney cookie cutters, can you sell the cookies you’ve made with them, or is workshops (not called Disney) to decorate cookies etc, if the children were encouraged to decorate in their own way?

    1. The Mouselets says:

      That’s an interesting question, unfortunately I do not know the answer to. With licensed Disney fabrics, some allow you to sell the products and some don’t. I assume cookie cutters would be the same way. If you were to have a workshop that was not branded with Disney, and use the cookie cutters, I believe that would be fine.

  21. Charlie Meizlish says:

    I’m curious where this would fall in the scheme of things licensing or otherwise. I take inspiration for my designs from various fandoms (knit & crochet) they never directly have logos or images of characters – so I know I’m ok there.

    I recently came up with an idea to create little llamas dressed in various costumes. (Llamas/alpacas are sort of my mascot) For example – a llama wearing the pink dress Kaylee wears in the series Firefly. Or a llama dressed in Jedi robes.

    1. The Mouselets says:

      That would likely be fine, as long as it is not branded as “Disney” in the title, description, or tags.

  22. Geoff says:

    Is this in reference to the classic Mickey silhouette? I’m curious if the 3 circles that make up a Mickey silhouette, is that also breaking copyrights? 3 simple black circles?

    1. The Mouselets says:

      A classic Mickey silhouette cannot be used, even if it looks like 3 simple black circles. A mouse headband can be used, which would include ears and an arc.

  23. Lily says:

    Hi, what counts as a “derivative work” under IP? Example: I draw the old paper fastpasses in a cartoon style and then print them as stickers and sell them. Would this be fine under Fair Use’s “Transformative” usage or would this be considered illegal derivative work?

    1. The Mouselets says:

      This is a tough one – always best to consult a lawyer with questions. That being said, you could likely use the Fastpass style as long as it did not include any Disney words – i.e. Disney, Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Epcot, etc.

  24. Denise says:

    Are silhouettes of space mountain and tree of life also prohibited? I’ve seen so many castles… was told if you alter the castle so it’s not the same castle but resembles it at first glance is ok. Is this correct?

    1. The Mouselets says:

      Tree of Life is okay as a silhouette. Space is a grey area. You are correct about the castle – changing the number of towers or the shape can help with a silhouette. When you google the silhouette, you’ll see a lot of art that resembles the castle but is fair to use

  25. Catherine says:

    Hello there,
    If I make a mouse character that has similar outline and proportion of mickey mouse head and ears but eyes, mouse, and nose shapes and colors are different, is it okay to use?

  26. Eunice says:

    can I draw a disney character and use it for flyers?

    1. The Mouselets says:

      Drawing does not bypass the rules. But, depending on what the flyer is for, you would likely be fine.

  27. Diana says:

    What about these Etsy shops that have say, purchased a princess figure pack from Disney, and have stuck the figure to the base of a wine glass with glitter, or turned it into a Christmas decoration wearing a Christmas hat?

    1. The Mouselets says:

      That is a complicated question. Technically you can resell Disney items, so this may be okay depending on where it is being sold, and how.

  28. Monica says:

    Would it be considered “derivative work” if I designed dresses that have the same color schemes and shapes as the Disney Princesses, but doesn’t have the actual character wearing it?

    1. Monica says:

      Designs as in digital graphic artwork to sell.

  29. Viri says:

    Hey! I’ve been looking for an answer to my question and have yet to find anything close to an answer. Could I do something like sell art of Chewbacca’s sash, without his character being on it? Or how about selling a board that has the lyrics to monster’s university’s alma mater song? or sell a keychain that looks similar to MU? I understand I can’t sell anything with the characters on it, but what about objects I saw in the movies? Like, I know I can’t a wooden illustrated image of the millennium falcon – or could I just rearrange stuff enough to where I could?

    1. The Mouselets says:

      You could do his sash but you could not brand it in any way as Chewbacca or Star Wars. Lucas Film is much stricter than Disney about their IP. You would have to check to see if the song is copyrighted, and probably several other things regarding Monster’s Inc but it would likely be fine, as long as it was not branded as Monster’s University/Monster’s Inc. The biggest thing is these items cannot be advertised as Disney items or Disney inspired

  30. Bridget says:

    why and how can Disney provide svg cutting files for electric cutting machines, 142 files for £300 then say they are for personal use only. this surely is a blatant enticement to people to sell what they make. What if you gave a Disney made item away free with something else you are selling, would that be wrong too?

    1. The Mouselets says:

      Yes, you cannot give away a Disney item free if you are doing it to bypass IP laws or enticing people to buy that item because of the free gift. And yes, it’s an interesting choice

      1. Sam says:

        What about just making fan art and sharing it for free? I make cross stitch patterns but made a Disney one and a Nintendo one when I was just starting out. I never intended to sell them and have not done so. I feel bad that they were only stitched once though and would like to share them for free on my page. I wouldn’t require anyone to buy anything to access it.

  31. Lisa says:

    I am a Disney fan who has curated a large Disney collection and I’m hoping to sell some of it. Rather than post individual items on eBay, I would like to make a web store. I’m wondering if it’s OK to use a couple still shots from a Disney animated film on my web store’s homepage to create a themed site. I found the stills on Pinterest and I will be happy to give credit where it’s due. I’m also wondering if it’s OK to use the words Disney Collectibles in the title of my web store.

    1. The Mouselets says:

      Because you are reselling vintage items this would be different (as you are not violating IP by creating them). In this case you could use the words Disney collectibles. As for the Disney animated film scenes, I’m not sure if you could but to err on the safe side I wouldn’t.

  32. Cathy says:

    Can a photographer take photos of a child or person dressed up in theme of mickey mouse eg 1st birthday cake smash and also are they allowed to have toys in the scene

    1. The Mouselets says:

      A photographer can definitely take pictures of this, yes!

      1. Cathy says:

        Awesome thank you

  33. Brianna says:

    Would it be ok to take already licensed Disney clothing and alter them? Whether this be turning them into other items of clothing or changing the way they look originally?

    I want to be able to buy apparel in the parks and make them into better clothing pieces. Thank you!

    1. The Mouselets says:

      Yes you can, it is legal to resell Disney clothing i.e. thrift shops, Etsy, etc.

  34. Amy says:

    May I use a Disney “Princess Poster”I paid for, decoupage it onto a dresser, post the dresser on FaceBook and sell the dresser for money?

    1. The Mouselets says:

      To preface this, I’m not a lawyer so I cannot advise on anything legal. That being said, from what I’ve seen, I believe you can. Additionally, because this isn’t a business just a product, Disney would almost definitely never come after you.

  35. Jolien says:


    I’m a graphic designer and a client asked me to have a Disney character on the birth announcement cards for their baby.
    Is it allowed to put the character on birth cards and can I refer to the image with a copyright to Disney? Or how does it work? I always draw or buy images myself, so I don’t want to get in trouble by using an original Disney picture.
    I went to the official Disney Legal License page to receive permission, but I couldn’t get through the application form, it was an automatic answer, referring to a website for wallstickers from Disney to get my information there… Many thanks in advance.

    1. The Mouselets says:

      The Disney information sight won’t give you any information as they don’t advise on legal matters. I am not a lawyer, so I cannot. Drawing an image does not bypass copyright. As far as I know, there is not a way to obtain rights to use Disney images (i.e. Canva, etc). If you want the official legal answer, you would need to consult a lawyer. An alternate option would be to use a castle or something representative. However, Disney very infrequently goes after business for IP, browse on etsy and you’ll see thousands of designs using characters.

  36. JB says:

    Thank for a lot of very useful information. I saw your reply about the ears. Just to make sure, it is OK to use a silhouette of the “ears” hat, as long as it’s a slightly different shape? I’ve seen unaffiliated logos with this.

    Also, is it OK to use Mickey’s coloring scheme on a logo, as long as it’s not actually Mickey Mouse? Almost like a nod to the character.


  37. Valerie says:

    My question may be too complex but here goes:

    I purchased a large lot of Concrete Statue Molds from a defunct business. Included in the lot the were several Disney Character Molds.

    I have received conflicting information on whether I can sell the statues that are created from the molds.

    One side says the licensing would have been to the original Mold Maker (the company who created the molds), as Disney would know they were being made with the intention of being sold to companies for commercial use and eventual resale.

    Another side says you have to be licensed by Disney to sell the actual statues created from the molds. If Disney says No to almost every licensing request, what would be the point in creating these molds to begin with?

  38. ZP says:

    I have a quick question. I am looking at to sell nursery hangers which has Mickey, Minnie ears with bow, Pooh ears. Also, At the bottom it has 3 circles that look like mouse. Is this legal to sell them in USA?

    1. The Mouselets says:

      It would depend on if you were selling an existing product or making them

  39. Cat Wilson says:

    Hi! Two questions please!
    First, can you photograph Disney things (not people nor characters) and sell them as art in galleries or online?

    Second, can you write a book, say a romance, based at WDW? I know there was one already, a teen mystery series, but I was wondering if a romance novel could be offensive to Disney’s spotless image? What about a mock theme park that alluded to perhaps being Disney?

  40. Roland says:

    Thank you for all these information!

    I am a hobby artist and from time to tine I do fanart (Disney but other fanart too). I never would sell fanart but I’m posting it on Twitter and instagram and on my own website for free.

    Some weeks ago I opened a Patreon account and after reading your text I am wondering, if I can present fanart there. I didn’t do it until now but I am asking for the future since on Patreon when you’ll get supporters money is involved.

    Additionally: What about my website? There is a link to my Patreon account on it. Does this mean now it is commercial and if it is commercial do I have to delete the fanart?

    Thanks in advance!

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