Wernick & Pratt is committed to protecting our clients’ copyright and intellectual property. We are delighted that young readers, parents, teachers, librarians, caregivers, and other fans of children’s literature enjoy our clients’ work, and we do everything we can to make sure those books, characters, images, films, songs, and more are used appropriately, and in alignment with the law.
WHAT IS COPYRIGHT?
Copyright is the exclusive right that an author, illustrator, or other creator holds in the intellectual property—a book, a painting, a song, etc.—that they create. Copyright belongs to the creator at the moment of creation. Most creative works, including the texts and illustrations created by our clients, are registered with the United States Copyright Office.
I’M A TEACHER OR LIBRARIAN. WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SHARING BOOKS WITH MY STUDENTS AND PATRONS?
Nonprofit educational use of copyrighted materials is covered under Section 107 of the Copyright Act, also known as “Fair Use.” This limited doctrine allows teachers, librarians, and other noncommercial users to share copyrighted works with others in specific contexts, based on four factors:
In practice, this allows a teacher to read aloud a picture book and have students respond creatively to the story as part of an assignment, or a librarian to sponsor a storytime based on a favorite character.
CAN I MAKE A VIDEO OF MYSELF READING A BOOK OUT LOUD?
Public read-aloud videos are not allowed under copyright without permission from the creator. Our guidelines for teachers, librarians, and other nonprofit educational users wishing to share content with students online during the COVID-19 pandemic can be found here.
I FOUND A CUTE SHIRT FEATURING A CHARACTER FROM MY FAVORITE BOOK. SHOULD I BUY IT?
We license commercial and merchandising rights to our clients’ work to trusted third parties, including Out of Print Clothing, Yottoy, The Eric Carle Museum, and other select companies. These are the only authorized items available featuring our clients’ work and characters, including favorites such as The Pigeon and Elephant & Piggie by Mo Willems, and Little Blue Truck, illustrated by Jill McElmurry.
Unfortunately, many companies make t-shirts, phone cases, hats, invitations, and other items featuring our clients’ work without authorization or permission. These products are often of lower quality and do not reflect the high standards we maintain for any uses of our clients’ work.
HOW CAN I SPOT AN UNLICENSED PRODUCT?
If you see an Instagram post of a t-shirt featuring The Pigeon, or a Facebook ad for an Elephant & Piggie mug, please check the item and the seller carefully before considering a purchase. If the seller doesn’t identify the creator of the artwork by name, it’s likely an unauthorized use.
Does the design look right? In an unauthorized use, the colors may be slightly off, or the typeface isn’t the same as the book, or the expressions on the characters don’t look quite right.
Is the website or seller reputable? If you click on an Instagram ad and can’t immediately tell who or where the seller is, that’s a red flag. If a seller doesn’t list company contact information where it can easily be found, that may mean they’re not reputable or legitimate.
Is the artist’s name and the name of the character or property clearly identified? Does the image or product include a copyright notice, and/or an artist’s signature? Does the listing have the character’s name clearly and accurately stated (e.g., “Elephant & Piggie,” not “Pig and Elephant”)? If not, steer clear of the site.
Please note that Wernick & Pratt Agency does not license any of our clients’ work to companies such as CafePress, Teepublic, Etsy, or other sites that create merchandise based on user-uploaded images.
WHAT DO I DO IF I THINK SOMEONE IS SELLING OR PROMOTING UNAUTHORIZED IMAGES OR PRODUCTS?
Please direct any concerns about possible copyright infringement to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mo Willems authorized licensees:
The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art: https://shop.carlemuseum.org/category/mo-willems-0
Out of Print: https://outofprint.com/collections/mo-willems
Berkshire Blankets: https://berkshireblanket.com/collections/mo-willems-collection
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts: https://shop.kennedy-center.org/collections/mo-willems-at-the-kennedy-center
Little Blue Truck authorized licensees: