Turning Away Business??

Business By kellertur Updated 5 Oct 2009 , 11:47am by cutthecake

kellertur Posted 30 Sep 2009 , 2:06am
post #1 of 47

This month, I've received two or three calls for cakes protected by copyright laws. I give options to place characters on instead, but they want a replica (Star Wars, etc.). I've explained politely why I cannot "just do these cakes" unless THEY fax me a letter of release from the legal dept...

I hate turning down business, but I'm sure someone at some point was sued over this...

I have respect the copyright laws , and it's irritating when someone calls back twice to try and get me to break the law after I've explained in detail why I cannot. icon_confused.gif Why is it so hard for some customers to understand that I am NOT breaking the law for a cake? icon_confused.gif

46 replies
Mensch Posted 30 Sep 2009 , 2:18am
post #2 of 47

Becaue, in their eyes, they are just SOOOO special, and you should be falling all over yourself trying to please them

indydebi Posted 30 Sep 2009 , 2:24am
post #3 of 47

"Dear _______:
I am more than happy to make your illegal cake with the image that is protected by copyright law. All I need you to do is sign the attached document, stating that you are aware it's illegal, you held a gun to my head to force me to make it, you will be liable for the $50,000 fine, and you will spend the 10 years in jail for me. Once I have this signed document back, I can start your cake."

Kandy4283 Posted 30 Sep 2009 , 2:27am
post #4 of 47

Or they just plain and simply think that its just for them and they will not tell anyone about it and everyone would be good to go, when really your not in the long run and you will have to live in that fear for awhile about what if it happens....people.....wow! Some customers want what they want and do not care about what it could do to anyone else! It's money and its hard to say no, but we have to do what we have to do to keep it going! There will be many others customers to come to that will make up for the loss!

littlecake Posted 30 Sep 2009 , 3:01am
post #5 of 47

this seems to just come with the biz of birthday cakes......i have to tell people this many times a week...

sometimes i use the indy method and ask them if they would like to sign a release for 25K in case we are caught....that makes them change their mind pretty quick

SugarFiend Posted 30 Sep 2009 , 11:09am
post #6 of 47

Actually, I think it might be a distortion in public opinion more than anything else. "Wal-Mart or Costco can make me a Hannah Montana/Star Wars/Spiderman/Spongebob cake, so why can't YOU do it?"

I honestly think ignorance might come into play more than arrogance. At first, anyway. People get bombarded with copyrighted character cakes at the big chain stores who get the licensing, and they don't understand why the smaller independent bakers can't do it.

Then again, I can also see how these same people who start out uninformed can just become arrogant once the situation is explained to them.

This is just the humble opinion of a hobby baker who would seriously like to make a business of it...

cutthecake Posted 30 Sep 2009 , 11:47am
post #7 of 47

And when the picture of their adorable birthday child (with his hands in his copyrighted character cake) is posted on the internet for all to see, you are exposed. Your cake has gone public.
Plus, other people may see (and then want) the same copyrighted character cake (or another).

jillmakescakes Posted 30 Sep 2009 , 12:17pm
post #8 of 47

Thought I'd share this one-- I had someone ask for a copyrighted character, explained that we needed licensed figures and I'd see what I could find. I couldn't find any (it is an oldie, but goodie cartoon) and so I contacted the owner of the copyright to see about a release. They sent me to two cake decorating companies that are supposed to have licensed products. After checking with both companies, neither make those figures anymore. So I contacted the copyright people again to tell them that there are no figures, so can I get a release now... They basically said "sorry 'bout your bad luck" icon_eek.gif

Of course, on the other hand, I HAVE gotten releases for many cakes that I never thought I would.

pieceacake830 Posted 30 Sep 2009 , 12:28pm
post #9 of 47

how do you go about getting those releases? Who do you talk to???

CakeInfatuation Posted 30 Sep 2009 , 12:29pm
post #10 of 47

on this topic... I made a Minnie and Mickey cake for my niece's 2nd Birthday. It was a gift... no money exchanged, so totally okay.

The bakery I work for sometimes shows clients my blog so they can get an idea of the quality of my work and the level of detail.... so one woman saw the Minnie and Mickey cake and wants it for her daughters Birthday.

I've said something in the past to my boss about not being able to do things that are copyrighted but they haven't "heard" me.

So... if I make this cake my boss told me to make, for the bakery... am I liable as the decorator or am I just doing what my boss told me to do and THEY are liable? If I could get in trouble, I'm gonna have a problem.

cakesdivine Posted 30 Sep 2009 , 1:08pm
post #11 of 47

I would assume (just assuming because I have no idea the law on this) that even if your boss told you to make it you both could be implecated. If your boss told you to rob a bank and you did it to keep your job you would both be held accountable, you for actually doing the job and he/she for ordering you to do so on his/her behalf.

jhuntl01 Posted 30 Sep 2009 , 1:28pm
post #12 of 47

Ok, so here is my question. I have only done wedding cakes (except for my kids) and I am wanting to start doing birthday cakes, but the licensed character thing intimidates me a little. If you sell cakes decorated by the decopak kits is that ok? Also if you use a character pan...say Scooby-Doo, but sell it as a "dog" cake is that ok or is that still trouble? I just don't want to get myself in trouble.

Lenette Posted 30 Sep 2009 , 1:46pm
post #13 of 47

I generally tell folks that I can do a cake in the theme of the character and they can add a candle or figure of some sort. Some get it, some don't.

For instance,this week I have two cakes both for Elmo theme parties. For one, I am doing cupcakes with bc swirled on top and primary color sprinkles. For the other mom bought an Elmo candle so I am doing a cake with bright colors and she will add the candle.

My daughter wanted Hannah Montana one year and I wanted to put it on my website with out having issues with clients calling so I did a pink guitar.

There are ways to work within the system, give the customers a cool cake and not put yourself in any danger. Some people just won't bend so send 'em on their way.
I look at it as I have worked too hard and invested too much to have this business for it all to be taken away so I can do your $40 or $100 cake! If potential customers don't want to work with me then oh well.

"Next!" icon_wink.gif

indydebi Posted 30 Sep 2009 , 1:49pm
post #14 of 47

When you buy the Deco-pak kit, you are also buying the licensing to resell that kit/character for that ONE cake. My understanding (and I beg anyone to correct me if I have this wrong) is that when you buy the kit, you are obligated to make the cake exactly like the picture. I mean, you can't buy a Minnie Mouse/Goofy kit and do a cake where Goofy is "doing" Minnie.

If someone looks at your "dog" cake and says "Oh look! Scooby Doo!" then you're in copyright violation.

I'll repeat the story: My neighbor works for Jim Davis, creator of Garfield. Some guy thought if he made Garfield in blue ("change it just a little and it's not a copyright violation" myth), then he'd be ok. THe court system showed him the error of his thinking.

Cakesdivine, I worked for a boss who is NOT on my list of Favorite Bosses (in my corporate life). He asked me to do something that was in violation of federal law. I was in the in-house expert on this pricing law and he chose to ignore me on it. I contacted an attorney who specialized in this law, who told me to do whatever I could to get out of doing what the boss asked. I called my immediate boss, told him what our mutual boss was asking me to do, told him 'I love my job but I'm not paying a $500,000 fine and doing 20 years in jail for you guys." My immedaite boss told me he'd take care of it.

RebelChick Posted 30 Sep 2009 , 2:17pm
post #15 of 47

To add to the confusion...(mine mostly!) When you buy a character pan, say Wilton, and it has the insert that has scooby doo or dora or whatever, what then? Is that then covered under the copywrite laws?

Okay...just saw same question asked above re: character pans, but still want to know!!!!! LOL

giggysmack Posted 30 Sep 2009 , 2:22pm
post #16 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by jillmakescakes

Thought I'd share this one-- I had someone ask for a copyrighted character, explained that we needed licensed figures and I'd see what I could find. I couldn't find any (it is an oldie, but goodie cartoon) and so I contacted the owner of the copyright to see about a release. They sent me to two cake decorating companies that are supposed to have licensed products. After checking with both companies, neither make those figures anymore. So I contacted the copyright people again to tell them that there are no figures, so can I get a release now... They basically said "sorry 'bout your bad luck" icon_eek.gif

Of course, on the other hand, I HAVE gotten releases for many cakes that I never thought I would.





I'd love to know more about this. Thanks!

jardot22 Posted 30 Sep 2009 , 2:29pm
post #17 of 47

I think a lot of people see Duff and his crew replicating copyrighted characters (which they obviously received permission to do), and assume that since they did it, we can to. Of course then there are always the folks that just want you to do it hush hush for them, even after they do become aware that it's illegal.

cutthecake Posted 30 Sep 2009 , 2:44pm
post #18 of 47

And I think (please correct me if I'm wrong) that posting pictures on the internet (or anywhere else) of copyrighted characters or symbols or logos or images on homemade items of any kind--without written permission from the copyright owner-- also violates copyright laws.

The way I understand it is like this: You cannot reproduce any copyrighted material in any form anywhere (except for private, personal, non-commercial, non-business use).

This also applies to photographs taken professionally, even if they're your kids' school photographs taken by the photographer on school picture day. (I got permission to print my kids' school pictures on quilts I made for their graduations. Since it was for personal use, getting permission probably wasn't necessary but I did it anyway.)

Again, I may be off the mark, but that's my understanding.

snocilla Posted 30 Sep 2009 , 3:12pm
post #19 of 47
Quote:
Quote:

When you buy a character pan, say Wilton, and it has the insert that has scooby doo or dora or whatever, what then? Is that then covered under the copywrite laws?




If you look on the Wilton website, these pans say "For Home Use Only". That means you cannot sell a cake made in those pans, but you can give it to your family or friend.

jhuntl01 Posted 30 Sep 2009 , 3:56pm
post #20 of 47

Don't feel bad, I was seriously wondering myself. So...does anyone know if it is similar to the Decopak situation?

CakeInfatuation Posted 30 Sep 2009 , 4:49pm
post #21 of 47

I've been searching the internet for some information on the copyright issues. That way if I tell my boss I can't make a certain cake, I have in writing the reason why...

BUT I can't find a darn thing. Does anyone know where to find information that speaks of what constitutes copyright infringement so that I can be an informed rebel?

bakery_chick Posted 30 Sep 2009 , 5:07pm
post #22 of 47

Also, I know people have been sued but I could not find any documentation on it. I do not do copyrighted infringement, but I get asked all the time. My previous boss would do it all the time. When I asked her about the danger, she said we were too small for people to worry about, and that was her justification for doing it. I know that a major super market chain was sued for making Blues Clues cakes before the Deko pack came out. I too would love to have document proof.

indydebi Posted 30 Sep 2009 , 5:14pm
post #23 of 47

Do you know an attorney who could help with that? Someone in the neighborhood, in your church, a co-worker who has a brother-in-law who has an attorney on retainer, etc?

Motta Posted 30 Sep 2009 , 5:24pm
post #24 of 47

One local cake artist in town says that "if they sue her, they'll have to sue everyone who does it". I wonder if that's true. Can you make a case against the licensor stating they are discriminating against just one, so make it all or nothing?

indydebi Posted 30 Sep 2009 , 5:28pm
post #25 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Motta

One local cake artist in town says that "if they sue her, they'll have to sue everyone who does it". I wonder if that's true. Can you make a case against the licensor stating they are discriminating against just one, so make it all or nothing?


Which is why Disney has one entire dept of people whose job it is to go across the country looking for copyright infringement. They DO hold an "all or nothing" attitude. My impression, based on lots of reading here and other places, is that if the copyright owner doesn't actively pursue each and every one then they lose the ability to pursue ANY one.

Motta Posted 30 Sep 2009 , 5:34pm
post #26 of 47

Disney is the one to watch out for. I don't hear much about Nickelodeon.

Anyway, Disney is deadly. They made West Edmonton Mall change their Fantasyland into Galaxyland because it was too close to "Fantasia" I believe. It cost the mall owners tons of money to comply but they had to after a court battle. We're way up here in Northern Canada and they found us!! I'm scared of Disney, that's for sure.

jhuntl01 Posted 30 Sep 2009 , 7:57pm
post #27 of 47

Ok, according to Wilton...all character pans are marked "for home use only" and there is no license associated with them. The decopak on the other hand when you buy it as indydebi stated grants you the license for one cake per pack.

CakeInfatuation Posted 30 Sep 2009 , 9:15pm
post #28 of 47

ROCK -me- HARD SPOT

Can I cry now?

dreamcakesmom Posted 30 Sep 2009 , 10:50pm
post #29 of 47

So is it ok to buy the cake toppers to put on your decorated cake and sell it as a whole? Does buying say disney cake toppers allow you to use them for commercial use? There is no verbiage on the package to the contrary?

kellertur Posted 1 Oct 2009 , 4:01pm
post #30 of 47

I've also received permission for a few cakes, however it can be extremely time consuming and now I refuse to do the leg work. It's not worth it to me... I just explain the law.

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