Buyer Beware! Unlicensed Snoopy T-shirts

These shirts are not licensed. Don’t buy them or anything else from a seller offering designs!

Hey Peanuts Fans! Your fellow fans, including me, are worried about the rash of unlicensed Snoopy t-shirts showing up in our Facebook feeds. Learn what you need to be safe on the internet and how unlicensed products can impact your Peanuts collecting. Plus, I’ll give you alternatives to buying these t-shirts.

What is an unlicensed product?

Peanuts Worldwide owns the copyright to the Peanuts characters. Companies, like Hallmark, pay Peanuts Worldwide royalties to use the Peanuts characters on their products. These are licensed products. The artist creating the product will have access to a library of approved stock art of the Peanuts characters to use. After the product is designed, the product will go through an approval process with Peanuts Worldwide. The final product will have a copyright disclaimer on it, such as “©2016 Peanuts Worldwide LLC”. On t-shirts, it will often be on the tag and printed near the image on the shirt.

Unlicensed products have been created without the knowledge of Peanuts Worldwide. Sometimes these products are meant to be fan-produced art and products. Often times they are just rip-offs cashing in on the popularity of a character or franchise. It can be difficult to tell the difference between the two.

MudgeStudios created this fan art for a Peanuts sponsored contest on Threadless.com. However, the image was stolen and the signature removed for another website.

Fan Art Vs. Unlicensed Art

The internet is a breeding ground for talented artists to share their fandom with the rest of the world. Luckily, many franchises recognize the creativity of their fans and allow them to sell their artwork to their fellow fans. Threadless.com is a great example. Peanuts Worldwide even sponsored a contest looking for submissions. Part of the contest was the participants had to draw their own characters and could not use stock art. Each piece was an original creation by an artist. Purchasing these designs supports the artist and promotes allowing more of this great artwork to be produced.

Unlicensed Art repurposes licensed artwork without paying for the license. It can be easy to spot fakes when it looks terrible and definitely not drawn by Schulz. However, a lot of unlicensed product use what looks like licensed artwork. The internet and technology makes it easy to repurposed content taken from the internet and printed on products. Most products are shown using mockups, not the real thing. You may not know a product is not legitimate until you receive it.

Protect yourself

It’s so easy to create an online store today. Amazon, eBay and other sites that sell other’s products don’t have the manpower to approve every product that gets sold on their site. It’s buyer beware in the marketplace. Look for these signs when you’re buying online to keep yourself safe!

Facebook Pages

You see an ad for a cute Snoopy t-shirt in your Facebook feed. It takes you to the Facebook page of the company selling the t-shirt. Look at how the administrator interacts with their followers. Do they have a conversation? Or do they just repost a link to their online store?

For example, I saw a commenter question the legitimacy of their products and ask if they were licensed. The page administrator only replied with a link to their website. They didn’t try to defend their product or produce evidence. The page linked to did not have the information the concerned commenter needed either. The comment was later deleted from the page and the commenter blocked. Is that a company you want to buy from?

The Generic Online Store

Any legitimate website will make your shopping experience easy. They’ll have contact information. Their products will be easy to shop. They will make their shop policies available to you. Don’t just buy the first thing you see, look around and make sure the website is legitimate.

The site owner forgot to fill out the “About us” page or even remove it entirely.

Let me walk you through one such generic store. After their ad comes up in your Facebook feed, you may try to buy that Snoopy Shirt at “disneyawesome.com.” What will you find? Click their About us link and learn “To edit the content on this page, go to the Pages section of your Shopify admin.” The site has a footer that says “This text is fully customizable You can add what ever you want over here.” Perhaps you should contact the site owners and let them know they didn’t fill in this information. But… there’s no contact information. No policy information. Nothing to represent who this company is and what they do.

The content of this site is also suspicious. Disney Awesome? Peanuts isn’t Disney. Family Guy, Scooby Doo, Bugs Bunny and Maxine have nothing to do with Disney. You won’t get such a blatant clue with all shady shops like this! Go to their homepage and check things out before buying. If there’s nothing there, it’s generic or it just doesn’t feel like a real online store, walk away. No Snoopy shirt is worth dealing with company that isn’t upfront about who and what it is.

If you have made a purchase from one of these sites and had a negative experience, you may have recourse. If the site is made using Shopify, you can report the site to them. They will then take steps to resolve the problem. You can contact them on their support page here: https://support.shopify.com/. To find out if a site is made using Shopify, right click and choose “View Page Source” from the menu. A pop-up window will appear with code in it. If you see anything saying Shopify, then it’s a Shopify page. It may also state it at the bottom of the page “Powered by Shopify”.

Websites You Trust

As I mentioned, Amazon and eBay have a problem with these same unlicensed products. Digital printing makes it easy to take any image and put it on iPhone cases, shower curtains, t-shirts, bags, watches, mugs, and all sorts of stuff. Photoshop makes it easy to create realistic looking product images by compositing two different items. Images taken from the internet for a mockup may not reproduce very well when printed in a larger format. The key to weeding out the unlicensed products is to look hard at what you’re buying. Be sure to look at our image gallery for examples of these faults at the end of this post.

The Designs The shirt you’re looking at might have a quality looking design. Check other items and see if they’re just as good. If other designs look off or are being over-used, pass on that shop.

Star Wars X Peanuts is a neat idea, but mixed franchises is usually a sign of fan art, not licensed art.

Mash-ups of franchises are usually not found on licensed items. If you see a Deadpool X Snoopy or Star Wars X Peanuts design, you’re probably looking at fan art. If there’s no artist listed, then pass on that shirt! Not giving credit where credit is due is a sure sign of a possible stolen image.

Generic Images Does the listing look mocked up? Are there hundreds of other listings using the exact same images? This isn’t always an indicator of an unlicensed product, but it should lead you to dig a little deeper. Look at the other items the seller has available.

Generic Copy Is the headline easy to read, or is it filled with a bunch of keywords? Is the description helpful and well-written? Too much fluff or not enough concrete details can be a sign of trying to make a quick buck. Custom and Limited Edition used together may also signify a non-legitimate design being used.

Unrelated Products On Amazon, looking again at Shower Curtains, many of the rip-off products had multiple “colors” with other non-related designs. Licensed products wouldn’t be listed with other licensees or other designs generally. For instance, one Snoopy Shower Curtain on Amazon has another “color” that showed a shower curtain with a personalized wedding invitation on it.

Price Too good to be true? Ships from the other side of the world for free? These are big red flags. Sure, the shipping might be free, but it may take a month to arrive.

Quality Read the reviews! If the product you’re buying doesn’t have any, look at the other items the seller has. Do they show problems with the printing quality? Going back to the Snoopy Shower Curtain, one reviewer pointed out that the image was pixelated and showed a closeup of the shower curtain. I have a sneaking suspicion that the image stolen was a desktop background from suku suku, a legitimate Peanuts licensee in Japan.

Recourse If you have purchased an unlicensed product from Amazon, eBay, or other multi-seller site, you should be able to report it to them. Unlicensed items can only be taken off a website with a takedown notice from the copyright holder.

Cafepress.com has a wide range of licensed Peanuts designs available on a huge variety of products from shirts and bags to mugs and phone cases.

The Real Deal

One of the appeals of these t-shirt sites is the availability of products in a variety of styles and colors. Cafepress.com can give you even more variety of shirt styles, plus their designs are licensed. Yes, it may cost a couple dollars more, but you’re getting a better product from a site with a reputation to maintain. If you don’t like the product you receive, Cafepress has a terrific customer service department. My mom purchased a shirt and didn’t like the fit. They let her keep it and refunded her money. Will you get great customer service from a fly-by-night website that has no contact information?

Need to support your favorite national sports team? Be sure to visit Fanatics.com for a variety of Peanuts t-shirts and memorabilia.

Does it matter?

Peanuts Worldwide does get plenty of our money. However, if their legitimate products aren’t being supported, they may stop making them or won’t expand their product lines into things you CAN’T get with cheap printing. Charles Schulz strived for quality in the products with the Peanuts characters on it. To continue his legacy, make sure you speak for the quality you deserve with your wallet.

Fan art is being used on a lot of these sites. Would you want your artwork used and profited on without your knowledge? Of course not! You’d want to know and you’d like others to know you made it. It’s not just big business losing money, it’s the little guys who are getting ripped-off, too.

On the flip side, it’s your wallet. You can spend your money any way you want. At best, your fellow collectors are worried about you throwing away your hard earned money on junk. At worst, your fellow collectors worry about you getting your credit card number stolen by a company not handling your personal data properly. Protect yourself!

If you have an experience or a perspective you’d like to share, please email me, Caren, at info@collectpeanuts.com.

Did you find this article helpful? The article uses affiliate links to sites with licensed Peanuts products. Buy something you love via these links and you will help support CollectPeanuts.com. You can also sponsor this site and articles like this at Patreon.com. Thank you! Learn More…

Gallery of Unlicensed Items

These images were taken from “pop-up” stores on Facebook. They advertise on Facebook to drive traffic to their sites. Some Peanuts graphics do look like the real thing on their shirts. These are the more obvious knock-off images. To do your own research, use Google Images to find the true origin of the image. Click on the image to get more info on each.

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