The Los Angeles-based fashion label The Hundreds has been caught in the past selling merchandise with traced images from animated films like Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Cool World. Is it legal? Does it qualify as fair use? The Hundreds was founded by two law school students so they surely have some knowledge of how much they can borrow without getting busted. Legal claims aside, selling poor tracings of the copyrighted work of other artists is an ethically dubious business model.
One of their tracers, Jose Lopez, has posted some of the his knock-offs on his personal website. He identifies them as a “Selection of designs i have done for The Hundreds over the years. Some reinterpretations of old wartime insignia and some original illustrations.” The marching band image is taken from the UPA short Fight On for Old (which was also used for the cover of my book Cartoon Modern) while the insect appears to be a WWII insignia created by the Disney Company. (The latter Disney image is one of the few examples of actual fair use since Disney doesn’t own the copyright to pieces created for the U.S. government.)
This shirt on their site is a nearly-exact tracing of Groucho duck from Groucho Marx’s game show You Bet Your Life.
If you can identify other cartoon and animation characters that The Hundreds has “re-interpreted,” let us know.
UPDATE: Thanks to all the readers who identified the top image as being swiped from the Tom and Jerry short Trap Happy. Reader “mrstupes” provided this comparison between the original and the trace-job: