Hello all. I run a small cake business and I received an email from a bride and her fiance wants a snoopy cake. Now, I know all about copyright laws and such. I am attaching the picture she sent me that he likes, I just need some ideas of something that I can legally do that I can pass on to them. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks
Here you go, cake with customer purchased Snoopy:
Might be time for a little customer education, too.
This is what I have framed on my shop right next to all my current licenses:
Character Pans/Character Images
All licensed character shaped pans, candy molds and cookie cutters are for consumer home use only.
Stores/Shops/Decorators cannot make cakes, cookies or candies from licensed or copyrighted images and sell them to consumers.
These "mold-making" items are strictly prohibited from any type of commercial use since the licensor has neither the method to control the quality of the reproduction of the character nor the ability to earn royalties on sales of the "made" products. Free-hand or copies of character designs cannot be drawn or iced on top of a cake, cupcakes or cookies and sold for any type of commercial purpose. Once again, the licensor cannot control the quality & is not earning a royalty on the product created around their characters.
Specifically, creating any type of image that looks like a licensed character that then is sold for commercial purposes is prohibited unless there is a specific licensing agreement with the licensor for that product and royalties are paid each time the product is sold.
Additionally a customer cannot bring a character pan/mold they have bought or a toy topper for a cake to a decorator or store/shop, and ask them to make the cake/candy/cookie in exchange for money. This is considered the same thing as above, because money is exchanging hands without the licensor earning royalties.
A copyright protects an original work or creation and gives exclusive right to that work or creation to its author. Copyright law protects the author's/creator's work by prohibiting anyone else from using or profiting from that creation in any way without the owner's permission.
In reproducing copyrighted figures, it does not matter if the character is drawn by hand, added using an image projector, or put on a cake with a computer cake machine. If the item carries a Â© or Â® or â¢ symbol, then it is protected. Although most copyright materials will contain either Â© or Â® or â¢, U.S. law does not require it.
Copyrighted Photos for Edible Images: Obtaining the release
_________________ will contact the photo owner/photographer requesting a release for the one time use of their photo. If there is a charge for _________________ to use the requested image you, the customer will be notified and given the option to pay the photographer (a confirmation to me from the photographer in writing is needed) or the cost can be added to the cost of your cake and must be paid in full prior to pick up.
Can it really hurt?
The answer is yes. Some copyright holders may be satisfied with a cease & desist order, others could choose to file a lawsuit. Ignorance of these laws will not dismiss the suit, or get you out of trouble with a cease & desist order. The court could find you guilty and award financial damages plus attorney fees. The copyright owner can collect damages without having to prove that your infringement actually cost them monetary harm. Fines can vary. Some may only ask for a low fine but some well known companies are very aggressive in going after anyone and be as high as they feel their image use is worth.
How will they know?
In actuality they may never know if I were to do a copyrighted image on a cake. Some companies though do have legal teams dedicated to searching out their images being used with out permission. There are some well known companies who do focus on the cake decorators industryâ¦. In turn let me ask, how do I know you are not part of one of those legal teams who are testing me to do your image? I pride myself in my work, and running my business in a legal fashion. If you are part of a legal team looking for me to break the law, please rest assured itâs not going to happen at this place of business.
Why can you do a Character Image from the Deco Pac book?
Deco Pac has arranged to cover the cost of royalty fees for use of their products. Because of this the cakes MUST be recreated exactly as shown in the book.
With that saidâ¦ If you really want to have a copyrighted image, I will design a cake to match your theme in any way possible and you may buy any accessories you wish and place them on your cake when you get it home.
Be very careful about choosing to break this law. Ignorance of the law won't matter. Some copyright holders might give you a slap on the wrist for a few thousand dollars while many of the more famous characters and images will go after you with guns blasting and fire from the devil himself and hit you with a lawsuit asking for well over 100K.
I've seen it happen and I've seen it bankrupt and implode very successful bakeries and cause bake at home types to loose their homes and all they hold dear.
I won't even go into what will happen if you are caught and are not licensed, we are all adults with vivid imaginations. It's not pretty.
After 20+ years in this business I have witnessed some of these copyrights being enforced let me tell you it was ugly.
Just like being legal it's a decision you have to make and come to terms with in your conscience and heart.
And yes some of these companies actually do have teams to search the internet and sites like this to locate people breaking this law.