How can I obtain a license or rights to create artwork for T-shirt’s using the name, image, and likeness of college athletes?
3 attorney answers
The applicable law to be concerned about is Texas' Right of Publicity law which protects a person from unauthorized use of their name or likeness for commercial purposes. This is because your question originates from Texas. If you are not in Texas, research your specific state's right of publicity law.
In terms of the practical application of your question, there are several options:
1. obtain the clearance yourself;
2. hire a rights clearance company; or
3. hire a sports/entertainment lawyer to help you.
I recommend seeking the services of an attorney. I also note two important points my colleague made i.e. as a result of the recent court decision she mentioned, you are most likely going to be dealing with the athlete's agent; and the importance of having a pre-existing history of merchandising, which needless to say makes it more likely that you can secure the license you want.
Best wishes with your legal matter.
Ms. Uduak Oduok is an attorney with FASHIONENTLAW. The information provided here is general information. NOTHING HEREIN FORMS AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP NOR SHOULD BE CONSTRUED AS LEGAL ADVICE. For a legal consultation on your specific matter, please visit and set up a consultation at https://fashionentlaw.com.
Athletes (and everyone else) own the exclusive state law "publicity" right to monetize their names and likeness, which is sometimes referred to as NIL (name, image likeness) rights.
A recent court decision has allowed college athletes to profit from their personas, over the NCAA's objection. So most of these athletes' agents are brokering deals for these athletes.
These licenses don't come cheap, and any valuable property will come with a minimum demand of a hefty upfront advance and a demonstrated track record in merchandising.
Consult an entertainment/sports lawyer for help.
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