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copyright laws questions

post #1 of 58
Thread Starter 
am i correct in what I say in this statement on my website
please let me know if I am wrong about anything. i dont want to get in any legal trouble. also what is the law on using licensed cutters? I have a ice chest cake that has a orange texas long horn on it that i cut out using a texas longhorn cutter that i purchased from the cake shop. is that aginst the law to use???


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It is aginst the law for ANY cake decorator to make profit on a cake made to replicate or somewhat look like any copyrighted characters. These type of copyrighted characters include Mickey Mouse, Dora, Hello Kitty, Sesame Street, Thomas the Tank Engine, Bob the Builder, Sponge Bob and and other such character.

The fines for getting caught making these character themed cakes can be as high as $150,000 and are fined to the cake decorator and the purchaser both.

In order to keep my business and my clients out of trouble, I will not replicate characters without permission from the copyright owner.

If you would like a character themed cake to match your party them there are a few options.

1. You may contact the copyright owner and ask for written permission for a cake decorator to make a cake using their copyrighted logo and/or characters.

2. You may purchase a party pack of the characters or toy that I can include on your cake.

3. You can have a cake that is made using the colors but not in a way that replicates a specific character. For example you are having a Hello Kitty themed party with plates, napkins, cups, and banners all Hello Kitty themed. I can make you a cake using pink, white and black . For example a cake that covered in white fondant trimmed in black fondant with a pink bow on top. But I can not make a sculpted character of Hello Kitty or draw her face on the cake.

There are many cake decorators that do not follow the law regarding Copyrighted images and would be more than happy to make you a cake that is carved to replicate a character BUT they are taking a huge financial risk for them self and you doing so. All it takes is one picture to be placed on their website, or a guest at the party to snap a picture of the cake and share it with the wrong person who contacts the copyright owner and a law suit gets started. There are departments within these companies that have the sole job in searching out copyright violators.

Im sorry, I would love your business but I must protect my business and my customers.



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Slow and steady wins the race.... as long as the cottage food law says in place.
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Slow and steady wins the race.... as long as the cottage food law says in place.
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post #2 of 58
I'd add "without the permission of the copyright holder" after the first part about it being illegal.

Other than that I think it's pretty clear!
post #3 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar

I'd add "without the permission of the copyright holder" after the first part about it being illegal.


Agreed...it is also a copyright violation (assuming no permission) regardless of whether or not the cake was sold for a profit or even sold at all.
post #4 of 58
I'm glad I read Jason's post. That is what I was going to add.

If this is going on your site, you may want to consolidate the wording. You want them to read it. Also, because you are, in essence, relaying a legal issue, I think a few changes in your sentences would make the information come across as more authoritative. I'm not knocking your conversational style, I happen to like that in a site. But more formal may be better in this one explanation.

It should be named, "copyright/trademark" where you have copyright. Also watch your use of capital letters in the copy.

..."and are charged to both the decorator and the purchaser."

... "a substantial risk for themselves and you, the client."

..."and share it with the wrong person", is not how it happens. If it is uploaded to the web, it can be googled by the owner.

I would not end in an apology. Rather, "So let's get together and plan a cake that will not only be the centerpiece to your theme, but will also be free of any future problems with copyright/trademark violations."

Glad to have another person on board that respects the law. You can check out my wording on my site under Licensed Character Cakes. Hope this helps, Susan
post #5 of 58
I was just planning on adding copyright violation info to my site as well. I have lost orders because of it, but I would certainly rather lose an order or two than my entire business. So not worth the fine.

Jason, are you certain that this pertains to cakes not sold as well, i.e. my kids birthday cake? My understanding is that is not a violation because it is personal use.
post #6 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by FullHouse

Jason, are you certain that this pertains to cakes not sold as well, i.e. my kids birthday cake? My understanding is that is not a violation because it is personal use.


Copyright law pertains to all uses, personal or business, with a few exceptions for fair use such as parody, use in classrooms, libraries, etc.
http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html

Unless the copyright owner expressly allows personal use (for example, on some Wilton character pans) then duplicating a copyrighted character without permission for personal use is still infringement. Of course if no one takes a picture of the cake and posts it online it's very unlikely you will be caught.

Copyright law has a specific provision for infringement that was not for profit -- the copyright owner can sue for statutory damages instead of actual damages, which can range from $200 to $150,000 per violation. This is how they prosecute people who illegally copy music, since there is no direct monetary gain or profit involved.
http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap5.html#504
post #7 of 58
Thank you.
post #8 of 58
I see a lot of talk about copyright laws and violations when looking around CC, but in many of the cases being discussed, it is actually a trademark that is being used...that's a different ball game. I noticed someone else said something about that, but how would that change the ability to use something for private use?
post #9 of 58
So, the only way to include these theme characters is to have the client purchase a decopac? Does it have to be a decopac, or would any toy work, such as a batman figurine?
I've learned so much from my mistakes..... I'm thinking of making a few more!
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I've learned so much from my mistakes..... I'm thinking of making a few more!
Reply
post #10 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by scubasteve

I see a lot of talk about copyright laws and violations when looking around CC, but in many of the cases being discussed, it is actually a trademark that is being used...that's a different ball game. I noticed someone else said something about that, but how would that change the ability to use something for private use?


From the perspective of the cake decorator it doesn't really matter if the item in question is protected by copyright law or trademark law, you would still need to obtain permission from the IP owner.

Copyright covers original creative works, while trademarks cover business names and slogans. If a logo is sufficiently creative it may be protected by both copyright and a trademark.

Here is a pretty good article on the difference:
http://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2010/08/12/trademark-copyright-and-logos/
post #11 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Debbye27

So, the only way to include these theme characters is to have the client purchase a decopac? Does it have to be a decopac, or would any toy work, such as a batman figurine?


Any licensed figurine would be fine, no permission necessary. Your client doesn't necessarily have to purchase the decopac/figurine, you can purchase it yourself and mark it up if you prefer.

One way to think about this would be to subtract the cake from the transaction. It's perfectly legal to buy a licensed Batman figurine and sell it to someone else at a markup. It's not legal to buy a knockoff and sell it as a genuine product or to make your own Batman figurine out of fondant/clay/whatever and sell that without the permission of the IP owner.
post #12 of 58
So are all the themed cakes...sponge bob, toy story, etc, shown in the gallery of CC illegal?
post #13 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eaglewoman

So are all the themed cakes...sponge bob, toy story, etc, shown in the gallery of CC illegal?


If the cake decorator did not have permission from the copyright owner, any cake featuring a copyrighted character made from fondant, gumpaste, or BC violates copyright law.
post #14 of 58
WOW! Thanks for that info!
post #15 of 58
what about these contests... star trek, superheroes, etc.(seen in the gallery) Does each contestant have to get permission before entering the contest? The reason I'm asking all these questions is, unless you are looking for legal info on this site, home and part time bakers do not know this info. I was asked to do a themed cake and my son told me not to do it because of copyright laws. And that's when I started looking for more info on the forums. I think cakes that have permission should be marked as such on the pictures. Just type in toy story or sponge bob on the gallery search and there are hundreds of pics, but who knows if they are legal or not. This is what I was doing until my son raised that point. And I have been thinking of entering a few contests locally, I just don't want to get myself into trouble.
Thank you for all your help!
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