I'm A Schmuck....

Business By SweetThistleCakes Updated 27 Jul 2007 , 1:18am by Jessica176

SweetThistleCakes Posted 22 Jun 2006 , 8:03pm
post #1 of 35

I got a call today from the owner of a well to do florist around here whom I had dropped off some biz cards for hew wedding planner. She wants someone to do her dtrs 1st birthday cake! I turned her down. She wants a copyrighted image. I explained to her it's illegal for me to reproduce a copyrighted image for the sale of a cake. So thanks, but no thanks for me. I told her I would happy to do anything else for her, however, too bad, so sad, no biz for me. She'll find someone else under the table to create it. I guess when all is said and done, at the end of the day I am supposed to feel great about it because I played by the rules. Well I dont, and I want to cry. icon_cry.gif

34 replies
Tuggy Posted 22 Jun 2006 , 8:09pm
post #2 of 35

I´m sorry for you, that she didn´t buy a cake from you. But I think you acted right.

On funny thing is, schmuck is in german "Jewelry, jewel, high-class ornament". So try to think in that way - you are something special thumbs_up.gif

justme Posted 22 Jun 2006 , 8:46pm
post #3 of 35

You did the right thing... in a couple of days you will feel a lot better.

SweetThistleCakes Posted 22 Jun 2006 , 9:01pm
post #4 of 35

Awww, tuggy thanks =)

I keep thinking that this would have lead to more biz, but then again, losing $35 is better than paying $2500 in fines...ugh.

I've added a page to my website under "legalities"... feel free to browse. I think I am OK in posting that, correct?

Jenn123 Posted 22 Jun 2006 , 10:10pm
post #5 of 35

Perhaps she will have a lot of respect for your morals and recommend you to any brides that come to her.

leily Posted 22 Jun 2006 , 10:38pm
post #6 of 35

Sorry to hear that, I have had to do the same thing before.

If someone wants a copyrighted character I suggest picking a smaller toy from a toy store/department and I will decorate a cake for it then they can place the toy on the cake.

Just another alternative.

I like Tuggy's explination... maybe I should be a Schmuck more often! icon_lol.gif



MustloveDogs Posted 23 Jun 2006 , 8:36am
post #7 of 35

This exact thing happened to me tonight too!
A lady wanted a sesame street cake for her son's 1st birthday and I said sorry but it is a breach of copyright laws for me to do it as I don't use edible images. She said she hates edible image cakes, so fingers crossed she might still come back to me, but I have even been scanning the net for sesame street cake themes to see if there is anything I could do that wouldn't include copyright, but it is one of those that has to include characters!
I also feel guilt at saying no, and it is playing on my mind, but I don't do copyright cakes and won't break that for one person.
I know the likelihood of disney etc finding me is probably slim, I just don't want to risk it.
I just wish I could forget about it, but I hate not being able to help!

freddyfl Posted 23 Jun 2006 , 9:21am
post #8 of 35

why don't you decorate it so it is in a sesame street theme and then she can buy the toy accessories to put on it herself. Toddler gets fun toys, you stick to your guns, and she is a happy camper.

gakali Posted 23 Jun 2006 , 10:45am
post #9 of 35

I don't know anything about legalities - I haven't looked into it. There are so many character pans, Dora, Sesame Street, whatever. I'm assuming it's legal to use one of those?

MustloveDogs Posted 23 Jun 2006 , 10:53am
post #10 of 35

No, I can't legally do anything that resembles sesame street and sell it. No sesame st pans and I don't know any way to do a sesame street theme that is not recognisable as actually being sesame street either.
I just can't legally do it.

gakali Posted 23 Jun 2006 , 11:02am
post #11 of 35

Sorry to sound so naive, but how can these pans be sold legally if people aren't allowed to use them? Or is it that you're allowed to use them, just not SELL the cakes you make with them?

ape Posted 23 Jun 2006 , 11:06am
post #12 of 35

EXACTLY gakali....you can make a copyrighted character....just can't sell it.

blueeyedclownfish Posted 23 Jun 2006 , 11:03pm
post #13 of 35

thumbs_up.gif Good for you for maintaining ethics. You are a JEWEL. Loved Tuggy's definition.

I have heard of people who do not "sell" per se. They ask for a "suggested donation." It seems the same to me! Of course, then there is the entire issue of reporting revenue/expenses and "donations." What a mess!

Keep the ethics and you'll attract worthy clients. icon_smile.gif


KayDay Posted 23 Jun 2006 , 11:09pm
post #14 of 35

I think you could keep your morals intact and make a sheet cake with bright primary colors...and let them add their own toys in the same colors.

But never feel bad for doing what you honestly feel is the right thing! Be proud!

rezzygirl Posted 23 Jun 2006 , 11:26pm
post #15 of 35

here's another thread on the topic of using character pans and images.


PatricesPieces Posted 24 Jun 2006 , 7:28am
post #16 of 35

When asked to do character cakes, the way I work around the price is have the person purchase the pan for me. I get to keep the pan as payment and they get the cake. It's a bit less than I would usually charge, but this way I get a free pan and no laws are broken!! Just my input!!


SweetThistleCakes Posted 24 Jun 2006 , 2:59pm
post #17 of 35
Originally Posted by pdrinkard

When asked to do character cakes, the way I work around the price is have the person purchase the pan for me. I get to keep the pan as payment and they get the cake. It's a bit less than I would usually charge, but this way I get a free pan and no laws are broken!! Just my input!!


Having someone purchase the pan for you is still illegal. icon_sad.gif

jennifer293 Posted 24 Jun 2006 , 3:45pm
post #18 of 35
Originally Posted by puppyloveconfections

Originally Posted by pdrinkard

When asked to do character cakes, the way I work around the price is have the person purchase the pan for me. I get to keep the pan as payment and they get the cake. It's a bit less than I would usually charge, but this way I get a free pan and no laws are broken!! Just my input!!


Having someone purchase the pan for you is still illegal. icon_sad.gif

I would not see that as illegal. They just by chance bought you a cake pan because they are a "FRIEND" buying another "FRIEND" a "GIFT", and she just so happen made the "FRIEND" a cake from it for FREE!!! icon_biggrin.gif

You can make them for friends and family they are just not to be made for resale.. icon_lol.gif

elvis Posted 24 Jun 2006 , 4:02pm
post #19 of 35

i'm still pretty new to all of this--but is the big fear that Disney or Warner Brothers or whoever would come after little old us and say--- you owe me for all of the character cakes you've done? say....$200 or whatever? it seems soooo unlikely--i'm thinking they've got bigger fish to fry icon_smile.gif but i guess i understand both sides. is there a higher penalty that i'm not aware of? has this ever happened to anyone? (i can understand a big bakery or something....but other than that....???)

MustloveDogs Posted 24 Jun 2006 , 10:13pm
post #20 of 35

I am sure that disney etc has better things than to find lilttle bakers, but I have heard about a cake decorator who got a letter from a handbag company's lawyers (can't remember which..gucci, or someone) saying they would sue them for breach of copyright... so I prefer not to risk it.
I have also heard that disney has people employed whose sole job is to find copyright breaches.
The fine is not just repaying their royalties, it is a copyright breach fine and it is something along the lines of $20,000 or something. A figure I can't afford.
I just don't want to risk it.

Lemondrop Posted 24 Jun 2006 , 10:32pm
post #21 of 35

I thought I read somewhere that it was legal to make a cake with the toy characters. It's just another way of them selling their products.

PatricesPieces Posted 25 Jun 2006 , 4:17am
post #22 of 35

Guess I will not be making anymore character cakes...unless I plan on doing them free. I definitely can not afford $20,000. Thanks for the heads up on this.


kylielam2005 Posted 26 Jul 2007 , 6:11am
post #23 of 35

I'm in Australia & my business is making original & unique cupcakes.....I've designed some really unique ones, have searched the net before hand for 3-4 years without seeing anything like them, have spoken to a copyright lawyer, yet on the photo site I'm on have come across some people who are intent on causing trouble by insisting I am wrong with everything. One person insists that cakes can't be copyrighted because they are pershables...but I was under the impression that it is the design that is copyright?? Even IF it gets eaten!!...so I would appreciate if anyone knows the real answer...(concerning Australia).

kylielam2005 Posted 26 Jul 2007 , 6:15am
post #24 of 35

P.S. My husband works in the movie industry & I remember him saying years ago that a certain company that may or may not be mentioned above.... are notorious for being really stingy, tight with money AND mean...his friend in the US who owns a huge movie business wont deal with them at all, so this topic with copying characters etc doesn't suprise me!
Wouldn't you think it would be free advertising for them??

Hollyanna70 Posted 26 Jul 2007 , 7:10am
post #25 of 35

I don't know a lot about the copyright laws when it comes to cakes, but I do know the character cakes are illegal to sell; and I know making an edible image yourself from copyrighted material is illegal, but purchasing them, and using them, as stated above is not...

However, when I worked at (insert warehouse, with a bakery inside, name here), and a customer would come to us with a picture that was indeed from a t-shirt, book, poster, etc. and wanted an edible image put on a cake from that picture we were told it was not allowed at all, BUT we were also instructed to tell them if their children drew the pictures themselves we would be allowed to turn that into an edible image and place it on the cake.

So, if the kid wanted spiderman on his/her cake, and drew spiderman on a piece of paper, we could then take said piece of paper, copy it onto the sugar/rice paper, then place that onto the cake.

Now, I'm not sure if this was entirely legal, but seeing (insert warehouse, with a bakery inside, name here) is a huge company, I doubt they would actually do something like that if it wasn't. That, or they just didn't care if they had to pay the fine were they caught.

Some of the pictures we would get to put on cakes were so incredibly cute, and the children were just thrilled to see something they drew themselves put onto a cake for their party. It gave them some bragging rights, almost like they made the cake themselves.. hehe

Hope this helps, some.


cambo Posted 26 Jul 2007 , 1:27pm
post #26 of 35

I'm in the process of moving all of my copyrighted cakes to a new page on my website with a "copyright" blurb on top of the page explaining the cakes cannot be reproduced and are simply on the site to show workmanship, etc. Nearly all of the cakes I've done with characters were for friends and family (no money exchanged) and I don't want to run the risk of being sued for breach of copyright!

So many customers want character cakes....so I'm going to purchase some edible images (although not very popular) and also some cake kits because folks don't realize just how cute you can make the cakes with kits on them! They think they are trapped with that ugly little cake in the book at the grocery!

SugarBakerz Posted 26 Jul 2007 , 1:41pm
post #27 of 35

So is it legal or illegal to decorate say a cake like the one in my gallery to look sponge bobish and have the parent place the candle on top at the party or can I place the spongebob candle on it?

tiptop57 Posted 26 Jul 2007 , 1:42pm
post #28 of 35


Although it is not a great comfort, I admire your morals!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! thumbs_up.gif

(We need more people like you in the world.)

FromScratch Posted 26 Jul 2007 , 1:42pm
post #29 of 35

Even if you buy the cake kits you are required to decorate them the way they want you to. You can't take a total new direction with it and just place the pieces where you want. It stinks, but they are protecting their product.

It's best to play it safe.. I don't do character cakes at all.

SugarBakerz Posted 26 Jul 2007 , 1:45pm
post #30 of 35

but I don't mean even a cake kit, I mean a toy off the walmart isle or a candle or something?

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