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How Did Our Readers Score on Copyright Quiz?

The results from the Wearables copyright quiz are in, and they’re telling. Turns out, many apparel decorators and distributors lacked a solid grounding in the tricky, treacherous terrain of intellectual property law. (Check out the April/May issue of the magazine for my in-depth look at copyright and trademark.)

Over the last two and a half months, more than 400 people tested their knowledge of copyright, with 72% of that total completing all 10 questions of our online quiz. The average score was only 62%, showing that decorators and distributors know the basics of copyright, but were tripped up by some of the finer points of intellectual property.

Let’s delve a little deeper into the questions themselves. Nearly 70% of respondents answered the first question (see below chart) correctly, understanding that there’s no hard-and-fast rule defining how much an original piece of art must be changed before it’s no longer considered infringement.

The second question – “What are the safest ways to pull images from the Internet?” – had two correct responses, but only 21% of respondents answered the tricky question completely right. Seventy percent of respondents knew to contact the image’s creator to ask for permission, and 63% smartly chose to “use a subscription-based stock art service.” However, 38% also chose the answer: “Do a Google search, looking for images that are ‘labeled for reuse.’ ” Though this last option will usually protect you, Google doesn’t guarantee the images gathered from such searches have no rights attached to them. Surprisingly, 7% of people chose the completely incorrect answer – “Just right click and save. It’s public domain, right?” – buying into a dangerously persistent Internet myth.

On question three, 70% who took the quiz knew that the best way to protect a cool T-shirt design from copycats is to register it with the U.S. copyright office.

Question four was one of the easiest for our readers, with the vast majority understanding that copyright and trademark are two distinct areas of intellectual property (see below chart).

Question five (see below) was also fairly easy, with 80% knowing that the claim, “If you’re caught using a copyrighted image, the worst that will happen on a first offense would be to receive a cease-and-desist letter.”

Question six was another tricky one, with multiple correct answers, and only 16% of respondents answered all correctly: 91% know that your company logo can be trademarked, 86% know a slogan can be trademarked, 85% that the company name can be trademarked. Only half of respondents, however, knew about “trade dress,” that certain colors, sounds, shapes or packaging can be trademarked. And 48% of respondents wrongly assumed that the artwork on a T-shirt could be trademarked, rather than copyrighted.

Almost everyone got question seven correct, knowing that you need to actively protect your trademark to prevent losing it (see below chart).

For question eight, 61% answered that consulting a lawyer before posting a shirt design parodying another company’s artwork is the safest route to go.

On question nine, most respondents (70%) understood that it’s illegal to print a celebrity’s image without permission, even if it’s a parody. However, as evidenced by responses to question 10, many of our readers don’t know the exception for political figures. Only 40% of readers knew that it’s OK to feature the images of politicians without first getting their permission.

How did you measure up to your peers in our copyright quiz?