Question about copyright and meet up postcards

hello everyone! i’ve been wondering about this topic for a long time now and didn’t manage to find a clear answer, so I’ll try your help! if there was a discussion about this before, please show me :slight_smile:

i love the idea of creating a specific meet up postcard (postcrossing related or not) that matches the meet up theme, for example - X Files Fans Meet Up with a card that shows a scene from said show. but due to copyright terms, from what i found out, printing postcards using a copyrighted image from a movie/show (without the copyright holder’s permission), even in small capacity, even for personal use, falls into a grey zone between ‘completely illegal’ and ‘fair use’.

does printing under 100 postcards for yourself and friends, with all the credits on the back, as well as sending them through post after, still count as fair use? does printing it professionally automatically doesn’t count it as fair use?

i’d love to read your thoughts!


I will give you my viewpoint. In general terms, poster art/images relating to films and TV shows fall under copyright protection. I do a lot of posting on Facebook, but I do limit posting pictures and other things that are under copyright, preferring instead to post images that are free from copyright. Even if you credited the copyright owner(s), if your printed protected material without their permission could be problematic. If you are printing multiple copies of something, it isn’t for “personal use;” rather it is for distribution. Again problematic I think.

Most professional printers including online print shops won’t print an image that is copyrighted like the X-Files. They can be sued for copyright infringement.

That said if it was an illustration done by you or someone else, not a photo image, that seems to be acceptable to some printers. I’ve seen a lot of illustrations from movies/TV get printed in online shops.

If you could print these cards on your printer at home, I’m suspect it might meet the fair use criteria.


The “fair use” doctrine is a principle of US copyright law, but you have to know that copyright law is defined by the “lex loci protectionis”, meaning that the law applied to such cases is the law of the country for which legal protection for the intellectual property is claimed. So you cannot be sure if the law of your country applies.

If the artist is in Germany, and claims protection there, then German law applies, and I’m not sure if we have this notion of “fair use”. Copyright law is complicated. :sweat_smile:


If you print by yourself, you should go to the photographer and the author of the picture to apply for permission. If you don’t know the author’s picture, you can indicate the source on the back.It is convenient for the author to protect his work rights after discovery.If it is your own works and pictures, you can also mark them on the back and explain that they are not commercial.My postcards are all bought at present. I haven’t printed them myself.But I still need to see the laws of your country.I’m curious if the illustration created for the second time should not only apply to the artist, but also to the original author.So it’s better to sell directly.

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I think you should be fine as long as you print not the direct screenshot but your fanart made by yourself or with permission given by the artist, as it is how it works on Artist Alleys on most art-fairs across the world.


I’ve seen some meetup cards where I was not sure that they were copyright - proof… But most are done with own photos or drawings of the members, with a notion by whom the design was made.

You can also use free pictures from websites like Pixabay where people submit their pictures for others to use free of charge. I’ve found nice photos there.

Finally there are also Meetup cards where the members paid a fee to use a photo, for example if you don’t find a nice gratuitous view of the place where the meetup is held.

Similar to so called fanarts people sell, right? Like how we can pay someone to make us a nice drawing of a copyrighted character in their style although they’re not the creators themselves.

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I do not know how exactly it is in every country, but there are also restrictions for pictures that you eg. took with your own camera. In Germany many Zoos for example do not allow pictures you took there to be used beyond personal usage.

Another example is the Eiffel tower. If it is illuminated at night you are not allowed to publish any photos you took. The insallment is under copyright.


Wow, never heard about Eiffel tower copyright laws, but after searching some info I found out that it says it’s illegal to use night lights pics for commercial use, it’s not prohibited to post photos on social media and publish in journalistic materials.


Might I recommend this video on the Eiffel Tower


Many printing companies have stock images you can choose. If it was a sci fi group they probably have a drawing of a spaceship or alien you could use

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