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Copyright infringement for Cake decorations?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone,

It was just brought to my attention that using the likeness of Disney characters and such can constitute a copyright infringement - so how do we as cake decorators follow through with customers requests for a Disney Cars cake, for instance, without getting ourselves into trouble?

Thanks for your help!
Rhea
post #2 of 25
I usually recommend licensed character toppers on a generic cake with a corresponding color scheme. If the customer insists on a custom design, I require the customer to provide written authorization from the copyright owner before the order can be accepted.
post #3 of 25
The answer is simple. You don't.
post #4 of 25
Thread Starter 
I already have someone asking for another Disney cake so I will take your advice Jason and tell them that I will only use the liscenced cake topper and do some funky colours and designs to compliment it. Thanks again for the advice.
post #5 of 25
I agree with Jason. I've done two "character" cakes that had only background sorts of things, no copyrighted material. My cars cake had a street #5 with desert background, client put toy cars on top, and my Little Mermaid had only miscellaneous underwater stuff, with a purchased Ariel candle as topper.
post #6 of 25
I won't do them anymore, but partly for an egotistical reason than anything else. This area is drowning in Mickey/Dora/Thomas/anything from google that's been done a million times. Serious lack of creativity and imagination these days. I want no part of it. And yeah, the pesky copyright thingy too. icon_biggrin.gif
"I can do that, because this is my sandbox and I've got the bullsh*% shovel." ~Dianne Sylvan, Author and Lunatic
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"I can do that, because this is my sandbox and I've got the bullsh*% shovel." ~Dianne Sylvan, Author and Lunatic
Birthday Cakes
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Birthday Cakes
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post #7 of 25
Jason, I did not know that you could do that! That is really an excellent alternative. Do you happen to know how long it takes for said company to get back to people with written consent?

Rhea, you can also order from supply companies such as deopac. by doing this you have bought the right to use that product. It is a great alternative and they do have awesome things.
Christine

When my wires are frayed I think of shiny happy people holding hands!
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Christine

When my wires are frayed I think of shiny happy people holding hands!
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post #8 of 25
Don't you have to use the Decopac kits exactly as shown on their example cakes though? Like, if the cake shows the topper in a specific place, you can't go change up the design at all? Or am I imagining things?
"I can do that, because this is my sandbox and I've got the bullsh*% shovel." ~Dianne Sylvan, Author and Lunatic
Birthday Cakes
(2 photos)
Birthday Cakes
(2 photos)
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"I can do that, because this is my sandbox and I've got the bullsh*% shovel." ~Dianne Sylvan, Author and Lunatic
Birthday Cakes
(2 photos)
Birthday Cakes
(2 photos)
Reply
post #9 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by tcbalgord

Jason, I did not know that you could do that! That is really an excellent alternative. Do you happen to know how long it takes for said company to get back to people with written consent?


It depends on the company. Some will never get back to you, some will provide consent quickly, and others will say "no" quickly. But by having the customer take care of this, if the company says no the customer should direct most of their ire at the copyright owner instead of you.
post #10 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by AZCouture

Don't you have to use the Decopac kits exactly as shown on their example cakes though? Like, if the cake shows the topper in a specific place, you can't go change up the design at all? Or am I imagining things?



I have almost never done them as shown. You're buying the right to use that product, they don't care how you use it as long as you have paid for the right to use it.

Thanks Jason, this is going into my memory bank!
Christine

When my wires are frayed I think of shiny happy people holding hands!
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Christine

When my wires are frayed I think of shiny happy people holding hands!
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post #11 of 25
Well, I think they might object if you used it in such a way as could be considered even slightly defamatory.

Walt Disney World has a number of backstage tours. One of them, "The Magic of our Steam Trains," was conceived and implemented by two WDWRR cast members (a conductor and an engineer, as I recall). Their vision was of actual WDWRR cast members taking guests back to the Roundhouse, letting them climb into the cab of a (cold) locomotive, demonstrating a boiler blowdown (what they do to purge the sediment from a steam locomotive boiler), and finishing with a brief lecture about Walt's history with trains, all before the park opens in the morning.

Management barely tolerated the tour. Until it turned out to be a big hit.

For the badge issued to tour guests, and the souvenir pin handed out at the end of the tour, management decided to use the designs that the WDWRR people had come up with, with only minor redrawing by Disney artists (strictly to ensure conformity to the standard Mickey Mouse character design).

At Disneyland, when one of the Disney artists painting watch faces in the clock-and-jewelry shop on Main Street comes up with an entirely new design, it has to be submitted for official review before it can actually be scanned onto a watch face; even if you pay the big bugs, and commission a custom watch, you can still only get trivial variations (e.g., personalization and so forth) on pre-approved designs.

Now on the other hand (going back to Florida for a moment), if you take the granddaddy of all backstage tours, the 7-hour, 3-parks-with-a-private-bus Backstage Magic tour, you'll probably see a fair amount of Disney art, by cast members, that hasn't been formally approved for public consumption. But it's in a backstage area, BSM guests are considered "privileged," with access to a lot of things not for public consumption, and unless you're an official Disney photographer, backstage areas are no-photography zones anyway, so what's hanging on the backstage walls stays backstage.

James H. H. Lampert
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Web site: http://www.hbquik.com/jamesl

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James H. H. Lampert
Professional Dilettante

Web site: http://www.hbquik.com/jamesl

Flickr "baked goods" set http://flic.kr/s/aHsjvZvdTh

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post #12 of 25
In regards to DepoPac kits, if you call their customer service they will tell you that if you order a DecoPac licensed character cake kit, you are only authorized to decorate the cake exactly as shown in the picture that comes with the kit. I looked into that some time back when I was deciding what I would and would not do when I opened my business.

Creating works of art every chance I get! And yes, I am licensed, permitted, inspected and insured! Check out my website!

 

www.letmecallyousweetart.com

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Creating works of art every chance I get! And yes, I am licensed, permitted, inspected and insured! Check out my website!

 

www.letmecallyousweetart.com

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post #13 of 25
I made a Harry Potter cake exactly like the kit in the grocery store showed. I used the little figure. The cake was a gourmet cake with Italian meringue buttercream colored exactly like the picture. I made textures in the buttercream, and wrapped the little paper "Quidditch" towers around a square column. There were fondant accents. When I finished, it looked just like the authorized cake for supermarkets (airbrushed), but the quality was evident.

The other option I offer is the toys. I make the background cake and add tons of toys. My grandson had $45.00 worth of "Cars" toys on his cake. A client recently had a cake with the entire top covered with a Thomas The Train toy, tracks and all. Children love these cakes and they are legal.

I'm in WV so I bought the official WVU cake and cupcake pans (very expensive). There are no restrictions on these pans. Now I can offer these highly popular products.
post #14 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by scp1127

I covered with a Thomas The Train toy, tracks and all. Children love these cakes and they are legal.

I'm in WV so I bought the official WVU cake and cupcake pans (very expensive). There are no restrictions on these pans. Now I can offer these highly popular products.



I'm not sure the advice with the pans is legally sound. It's not the silly "For Home Use Only" stamp on Wilton pans that prevents a person from selling that cake. (Which is called a Contract of Adhesion, and is frequently legally dubious in and of itself.) It's the fact that the character you will be reproducing with the pan is copyrighted. You may still want to contact WVU and get permission for your cakes made with these pans, or get a legal release for all cakes made with those pans.
post #15 of 25
Double post
Christine

When my wires are frayed I think of shiny happy people holding hands!
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Christine

When my wires are frayed I think of shiny happy people holding hands!
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