Decoding Copyright Rights: What Every Action Figure Creator Should Know

Written by adrianslackman  »  Updated on: May 06th, 2024

Decoding Copyright Rights: What Every Action Figure Creator Should Know

Though selling action figures has become one of the most profitable business ideas, still it is not an easy one. Like any other material, action figures are also subjected to copyright. Everyone can't start selling any kind of action figures. So, it is crucial for you to know its copyright rights before you start creating action figures. In this guide, I will decode the copyright rights of action figures so that you can easily start creating and selling your action figures.

Let’s start.

What Are The Rights And Permissions Of Copyright?

The copyright rules are for the rights and permissions of copyrights to safeguard the creators. This means that these rules tell who can use, copy, or distribute their works. A copyright holder has the liberty to determine whether his/her work is used or not. They can provide the right to use it to the other or refuse to do so. In case somebody wants to use copyrighted material, they will have to seek consent from the copyright owner. This can be made available through a license or contract. Thus copyright, as well, provides creators with the right to monetize their work. They could either sell it or allow others to use it in exchange for a royalty. These rights (protection and credit) enable the creator to regulate his work and get appropriate credit and remuneration.

Can I Make My Own Action Figure?

Yup, it is possible to make your own action figure toy. As far as you are not depriving anyone from using the character that you design and create on your own, you will have no issues with the copyright laws of the land. Nevertheless, if you want to adopt a character that belongs to another copyright holder, say a popular superhero, then you are obliged to get permission from the copyright holder. This could be through such a licensing agreement or the like. But if you're making your own action figure from scratch, you no longer have to limit yourself to what's in the box and can instead bring your imagination to life by making it a reality. The most important thing is to ensure that the words you create do not infringe on others' rights and, instead, are a reflection of your own.

How Do I Get Copyright Permission For Figures?

To use the figure, the easiest way is to activate RightsLink. It is a platform that streamlines the reprinting process by making it easy to get permission to reprint copyrighted work. Next, you need to find the picture and get to know the owner of the copyright. You will note here that there are options to request permission from us to use the image in your project. When you’ve made your request, the copyright holder will look at it and then give you permission if they agree.

Are Action Figures Copyrighted?

Actually, action figures packed in custom action figure packaging boxes are often registered with the copyright. This means that the characters they create are not available to other authors as they are protected by copyright law. In order to make and sell action figures that are inspired by existing characters, like superhero or movie characters, you generally must be granted a license from the copyright or trademark owner. This license gives you legal permission to make use of the intellectual property in your action figures production. The license is indispensable in the process of manufacturing and selling the action figures that are derived from copyrighted characters and without it, it would be viewed as infringement. Therefore, respect for copyright laws and obtaining the proper licenses is vital in order to ensure that there is legality in the production of your action figures.

How Do You Know If A Figure Is Copyrighted?

The copyright status can be identified through the presence of certain markers on the figure. First of all, you must identify any branding or logos on the figure itself or its packaging. These are signs that the picture is owned by a copyrighted work. Moreover, if the picture is of someone prominently featured on the screen in a movie, TV show, comic book, or other media, it's most likely copyrighted. Moreover, you can resort to the Internet for information on the figure and its roots. Mostly it is a copyrighted character or design that is the basis of the merchandise; therefore, if you look around you will most likely find some information about the copyright holder.

Can You Sell Photos Of Action Figures?

It is also possible to take pictures of action figures that you already own and sell them. You can take photos of the figures that you own and then sell their pictures as a part of this arrangement. Nevertheless, if your photos feature licensed characters, you would be restricted in the usage of these photos. You will not be allowed to use the photos for commercial purposes without requesting the copyright owner for the consent. Moreover, you may need to take additional permissions. One should also be conscious of copyright rules and protect the rights of other people when offering for sale photos of action figures.

Do I Need Permission To Adapt A Figure?

Of course, you are to write a letter for permission to adapt a figure. This is where an important role of copyright law is played. If you want to modify or create a derivative work of an existing figure, typically it is required to get permission from the copyright holder of the original figure. This means that an illustrator takes a figure that is somebody else's copyrighted material and then uses it to make something that is new. Whether you change the design, add accessories, or make other adjustments, you still rely on the remaining unaltered work which is the copyrighted work. Hence, when you want to borrow a figure, it is of great importance to contact the copyright holder first to get their permission. By doing this, you will be able to confirm that you are legally allowed to reproduce and distribute your edited version of the picture.


The basic rights of copyrights should be known to every artist who practices action figure design. For any business operating in the action figure industry, whether it is designing, creating, or selling action figures, it is vital to have knowledge of the copyright laws as it will ensure that you are within the legal boundaries and are respecting the rights of copyright owners. It is often to be adapted from the existing ones and to reproduce any figure that requires permission. This requires diligence, and it is essential to be well-versed with the legal guidelines.

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