I Got An Answer From The Copyright Office...

Business By costumeczar Updated 8 Mar 2010 , 2:37am by FullHouse

costumeczar Posted 25 Feb 2010 , 7:25pm
post #1 of 39

...and it's still pretty vague. I asked if you could copyright the designs on cakes or cookies, and they referred me to the publication about Works of the Visual Arts http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ40.pdf . In different places it says:

1. You can't copyright familiar images (I'd assume that this would include something like a picture of a cat or a basket of fruit.)

2. You can't copyright something that you've changed a little bit if it's based on someone else's design ("Mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or coloring"). I would assume that this could be used to argue that you can't copyright a cake design, since you can probably find any number of designs that came before the one you're trying to copyright that are similar to what you've done.

And this:
3. "Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States to the authors of original works of authorship, including pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works. The owner of copyright in a work has the exclusive right to make copies, to prepare derivative works, to sell or distribute copies, and to display the work publicly. Anyone else wishing to use the work in these ways must have the permission of the author or someone who has derived rights through the author"

There's also an interesting section on Moral Rights, which says this: "The right of integrity allows artists to protect their
works against modifications and destructions that are prejudicial
to the artists honor or reputation", (which would probably be used to prevent people from making a comic book with Mickey mugging people and stealing their money. That would harm Disney's reputation, so that section would likely be used to argue that you can't do reproductions of copyrighted items in case it damages the reputation of the copyright holder.)

I think that you could find a lawyer to tell you whatever you want to believe, based on this. Unless it's a truly original work of art, it's doubtful that you could really get a copyright that would hold up under the terms they've listed. But read it for yourself, I'm not an attorney who's charging anyone by the hour, so I don't mind how long you take to read the whole publication icon_smile.gif

38 replies
JulieMN Posted 25 Feb 2010 , 7:41pm
post #2 of 39

Thanks for the follow-up.

LaBellaFlor Posted 25 Feb 2010 , 7:45pm
post #3 of 39

Sounds like some of us were right.

barbbouk Posted 25 Feb 2010 , 7:46pm
post #4 of 39

Thank you - very interesting stuff.

The_Lil_Cakehouse Posted 25 Feb 2010 , 7:47pm
post #5 of 39

I was just discussing this with my husband (like he really cared, he thinks its silly how much I'm on here). icon_smile.gif It was nice to see an update, although still left for interpretation icon_smile.gif Which was my point in the last posts, anyone can think anything, its all how YOU read it icon_smile.gif

FierceConfections Posted 25 Feb 2010 , 7:49pm
post #6 of 39

Sounds like someone may be paying a lot of money for some very subjective advice. And to that end, all I can say is that it must be nice to have that kind of money. icon_rolleyes.gif

tiggy2 Posted 25 Feb 2010 , 7:49pm
post #7 of 39

Pretty much what I thought. Hearts, turkeys, etc. have been around for a long time so who knows who invented/designed them.

princesscris Posted 25 Feb 2010 , 8:03pm
post #8 of 39

Interesting. I think someone would have a very hard time defending copyright on a cookie or cake or design based on that information.

I don't have a problem with copyright on photos of cakes or cookies. It's just plain wrong to take someone else's work and make out that it's yours - not because of design issues, but because you are stealing their skill level, the quality of their work, their talent - if you have the skill to reproduce the cookie/cake, then prove it and take your own photo of your own cookie.

What irks me the most about copyright on cakes/cookies is that it implies that it's okay for the copyright holder to use other people's designs to create a cake/cookie (and let's face it, the copyrighted designs out there are not truly unique, just small variations on existing themes and styles), but nobody can use theirs. That's not playing fair.

Cris.

tx_cupcake Posted 25 Feb 2010 , 8:23pm
post #9 of 39

I still want to know whether or not a C&D has ever been issued because of a cookie.

costumeczar Posted 25 Feb 2010 , 8:25pm
post #10 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by tx_cupcake

I still want to know whether or not a C&D has ever been issued because of a cookie.




I doubt it, but who was the person who just got a C&D from Chanel about the purse cakes? I guess it could happen if you're dealing with a large corporation. But then you'd be getting into trademark territory, which is a different animal. icon_rolleyes.gif

tx_cupcake Posted 25 Feb 2010 , 8:46pm
post #11 of 39

I seem to remember that was a well-publicized bakery in the UK. I may be wrong.

Either way, I know if I were paying a lawyer to be at my beckon call, I would want that lawyer to earn every dollar. And to me, that would mean C&Ds all over the place!

I like to get my money's worth.

mamawrobin Posted 25 Feb 2010 , 8:56pm
post #12 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by FierceConfections

Sounds like someone may be paying a lot of money for some very subjective advice. And to that end, all I can say is that it must be nice to have that kind of money. icon_rolleyes.gif





Exactly what I was thinking.

malene541 Posted 25 Feb 2010 , 9:12pm
post #13 of 39

But.........What about the themed shaped cake pans you can buy. If you weren't supposed to recreate spiderman then why would they sell a pan in that shape knowing you were going to make a cake look just like spiderman??

mommyle Posted 25 Feb 2010 , 9:13pm
post #14 of 39

I'd love to see God (or whoever you think created the universe) copywrite the Grand Canyon, or Angel Falls, or Dolphins. You know, all of the "Nature" that people photograph, and sell for huge amounts of money (Ansel Adams). Or scenery that painters have copied (Monet, for one). THAT would be HI-larious!!!!!

LaBellaFlor Posted 25 Feb 2010 , 9:15pm
post #15 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by malene541

But.........What about the themed shaped cake pans you can buy. If you weren't supposed to recreate spiderman then why would they sell a pan in that shape knowing you were going to make a cake look just like spiderman??




You can only use that for personal use, not resale.

LaBellaFlor Posted 25 Feb 2010 , 9:16pm
post #16 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by mommyle

I'd love to see God (or whoever you think created the universe) copywrite the Grand Canyon, or Angel Falls, or Dolphins. You know, all of the "Nature" that people photograph, and sell for huge amounts of money (Ansel Adams). Or scenery that painters have copied (Monet, for one). THAT would be HI-larious!!!!!





icon_lol.gificon_cry.gificon_lol.gificon_cry.gificon_lol.gif I love your wit!

The_Lil_Cakehouse Posted 25 Feb 2010 , 9:19pm
post #17 of 39

I would like to point out in the particular thread from before, her copyright was on her graphics that she was putting ON the cookie, not the cookie itself icon_smile.gif Just to clarify, not the shape the actual graphic. HOWEVER, the pumpkin pie, was just colors, so that was the one I thought the copyright would be vague on.

mermaid170 Posted 25 Feb 2010 , 9:20pm
post #18 of 39

I just want to say that by the time they prove that you copyrighted, the evidence has been...well eaten.

LaBellaFlor Posted 25 Feb 2010 , 9:37pm
post #19 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by CakesbyLecia

I would like to point out in the particular thread from before, her copyright was on her graphics that she was putting ON the cookie, not the cookie itself icon_smile.gif Just to clarify, not the shape the actual graphic. HOWEVER, the pumpkin pie, was just colors, so that was the one I thought the copyright would be vague on.




But thats just it. A lot of her cookies were all ready done, to the tee.

djs328 Posted 25 Feb 2010 , 9:39pm
post #20 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by FierceConfections

Sounds like someone may be paying a lot of money for some very subjective advice. And to that end, all I can say is that it must be nice to have that kind of money. icon_rolleyes.gif




Exactly what DH said when I was telling him about this.

Thanks, costume-czar for the info. Interesting, although, like you said, still very vague... icon_rolleyes.gif

djs328 Posted 25 Feb 2010 , 9:42pm
post #21 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by malene541

But.........What about the themed shaped cake pans you can buy. If you weren't supposed to recreate spiderman then why would they sell a pan in that shape knowing you were going to make a cake look just like spiderman??




I think in the case of the pans, you are only using them for personal, home use, as stated on the paperwork that comes with them. You are not allowed to sell those cakes. When you buy the pan, essentially you are paying for the right to use the design as well. That's my understanding anyhow...

ETA: Oops...Bella already got this one! icon_smile.gificon_redface.gif

Adevag Posted 25 Feb 2010 , 9:53pm
post #22 of 39

This is a question I have been thinking about since the last thread about this. Does anyone know the process of getting your image or "design concept" copyrighted? Who approves of it? Only the specific attorney? Because what I found confusing with the topic discussed in the previous thread was that just because a person had never seen a similar (or in some cases almost identical) design before does not give somebody the right to copyright, right?

So all I can say later is that I have never seen a Santa's Sleigh with presents before and that makes it ok? There has to be a process to get an image approved. Another example is how in the world was Tracy able to put a copyright on the shark that looks just like an already copyrighted character? How is that possible? Can you just copyright images left and right and then say I did not know?

LaBellaFlor Posted 25 Feb 2010 , 9:57pm
post #23 of 39

If it can be backed, then no, it's not okay. Tthe thing is can you back your claim to copyright in a cout of law. As far as the shark goes, Disney just doesn't know. And when I explained to her that it was no mistaking it was Bruce and Disney would probably would have a problem with her claim, she removed it from her site. Go figure.

costumeczar Posted 25 Feb 2010 , 11:18pm
post #24 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adevag

This is a question I have been thinking about since the last thread about this. Does anyone know the process of getting your image or "design concept" copyrighted? Who approves of it? Only the specific attorney? Because what I found confusing with the topic discussed in the previous thread was that just because a person had never seen a similar (or in some cases almost identical) design before does not give somebody the right to copyright, right?

So all I can say later is that I have never seen a Santa's Sleigh with presents before and that makes it ok? There has to be a process to get an image approved. Another example is how in the world was Tracy able to put a copyright on the shark that looks just like an already copyrighted character? How is that possible? Can you just copyright images left and right and then say I did not know?




There's a section on the link I posted that has the procedures to send in paperwork to get the copyright.

And the thing about copyrighting nature icon_smile.gif ...The publication also says that the copyright can protect the image created, but it doesn't give the copyright holder the right to prevent anyone from creating a similar thing, the copyright is on the image, not the object. There's also a section about an artist being able to prevent people from making a similar image and claiming that it was done by the original artist, since that would be forgery.

The copyright office can also reject applications if images are too common. Just becasue you put a copyright sign next to something doesn't mean that it's a real copyright.

rainyone Posted 25 Feb 2010 , 11:28pm
post #25 of 39

She took all the photos down from flickr.

I don't think you could copyright a cookie design if you could I think there wouldn't be chocolate sandwich cookies and only oreos. Plus they have the money to back their claim ( or whoever came up with that design first)

sadsmile Posted 25 Feb 2010 , 11:40pm
post #26 of 39

I doubted the whole copyright issue would stand if challenged. You wouldn't know unless it was challenged. I was thinking that the lawyer was just doing the work for payroll. So then wouldn't the lawyer also make more money representing the case. This is heart breaking to see someone so talented and so passionate about her work possible being taken advantage of like this. I really and most sincerely hope she isn't getting taken for a ride on the money maker.

costumeczar Posted 26 Feb 2010 , 12:00am
post #27 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by sadsmile

I doubted the whole copyright issue would stand if challenged. You wouldn't know unless it was challenged. I was thinking that the lawyer was just doing the work for payroll. So then wouldn't the lawyer also make more money representing the case. This is heart breaking to see someone so talented and so passionate about her work possible being taken advantage of like this. I really and most sincerely hope she isn't getting taken for a ride on the money maker.




That's what I was thinking, too. Her cookies were incredible, but I didn't think that her lawyer was giving a straight answer. After reading the publication I don't see how it would be possible to put a copyright on wedding cakes or anything like that.

kathik Posted 26 Feb 2010 , 12:04am
post #28 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by mommyle

I'd love to see God (or whoever you think created the universe) copywrite the Grand Canyon, or Angel Falls, or Dolphins. You know, all of the "Nature" that people photograph, and sell for huge amounts of money (Ansel Adams). Or scenery that painters have copied (Monet, for one). THAT would be HI-larious!!!!!




mommyle, you are hilarious!! I suppose God does have a Cease and Desist order of sorts, it's called death!! I'm glad he doesn't use it!

Kathi

LaBellaFlor Posted 26 Feb 2010 , 12:07am
post #29 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathik

Quote:
Originally Posted by mommyle

I'd love to see God (or whoever you think created the universe) copywrite the Grand Canyon, or Angel Falls, or Dolphins. You know, all of the "Nature" that people photograph, and sell for huge amounts of money (Ansel Adams). Or scenery that painters have copied (Monet, for one). THAT would be HI-larious!!!!!



mommyle, you are hilarious!! I suppose God does have a Cease and Desist order of sorts, it's called death!! I'm glad he doesn't use it!

Kathi





icon_lol.gificon_cry.gificon_lol.gificon_cry.gificon_lol.gif You guys are KILLING ME! That would be the ultimate C&D!

snowboarder Posted 26 Feb 2010 , 2:20am
post #30 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by djs328

Quote:
Originally Posted by FierceConfections

Sounds like someone may be paying a lot of money for some very subjective advice. And to that end, all I can say is that it must be nice to have that kind of money. icon_rolleyes.gif



Exactly what DH said when I was telling him about this.




Exactly what I thought, except I took it a step further by assuming the 'someone' was hubby's friend slash golf partner but only because his poker buddy didn't want the hassle.

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