As part of my business, I do not reproduce any copywritten characters, etc on my cakes and state this on my website. The only time I did do something copywritten was for my son's 2nd birthday. Anyway, I constantly get calls for something copywritten whether it be for a coach purse or Elmo and was wondering if anyone has ever told a customer that they need to request permission for me to do that. I know I can try to contact Disney, Coach, a college, etc, but I don't know if I want to spend an hour on hold just to be told I can't and not get the order. I am not looking for a debate of what you can and cannot reproduce, just wondering if you, the decorator, always does all the hoop jumping to try to get permission or if anyone has told a customer that they need to get the permission. Thanks!
Personally, I contact because I would rather have the discussion with the legal department. I am worried that if I left it to the customer, I'd get something like this:
Customer: Ok, so Bob said you can do it.
Me: Did they email you the release or is it coming in the mail?
Customer: Oh, they just said to do it, they wouldn't take you to court.
Me: Well, I need the release before I can do the cake.
Customer: but my son's birthday is in a week.
Me: (should have called mysel)
Also, by ME contacting the copyright owner, I can determine if I have a one time release, or a long term release.
Now, yes it takes my time to do it, but I consider that part of my business.
Thanks Jill! I appreciate your input! It definately seems like a "if you want it done right, do it yourself" kinda thing.
I always make the customer get the authorization. They send written permission with a letterhead to our shop.
I don't have the time and don't feel it's my responsibility to get the authorization. If they can't get permission we don't make the cake.
Question: soooooooooo what exactly to do you have to get permission to use...EVERYTHING??? So if I wanted to do a Channel or Coach Bag cake I would have to contact the company and get permission first? The same with characters like Elmo, Sponge Bob, etc....??? Just asking for clarity...I don't want any legal problems.
Yep, anything copyrighted need permission before being re-created for sale. Its a total bummer, but a legal necessity.
I keep a file of sports teams' and colleges' logos that I've gotten permission to use. I just called the most commonly requested ones for my area and got their written releases so that I have them on hand. If it's for something that I know I wouldn't be able to get (Disney) I just tell the customer that I can't do them.
I do like Costumeczar. If it's something that I know I can use in the future then I do all the leg work. This gets me the right information and then the written permission/agreement i have with them is under my company name. I also do this with local photographers, if they aren't local then the customer already has the information and can get the release.
And if it's something I know I dont' want to pay royalty fees or even attempt to jump through all the hoops to get permission (disney, warner bros, some sport teams) then I just give them options of what I can do (decoPac kits, pre-approved edible images, etc...)
Also, doing it myself i learned quite a bit about the process. My most recent request was for two state colleges in my state. I contacted both and one was about $250/yr and the other one by the time I went through the process was going to be over $1000. The one that was over $1000 is further away and I couldn't gaurentee that I would recoup my cost in the timeframe i had before renewing, so I told the customer what the cost was to do it. Of course they didn't do it, but i'm not eating that cost for a $200 order and un-sure of whether or not I can sell more with that school logo.
I make the customer get it. After all, it's their order. They just send an email to the PR Department of the college/sports team, whatever and get a one-time use permission via email. Then they forward that email to me. Generally it takes a couples of minutes.
Thanks everyone... seems like my best bet is to do a combination. I definately see where something like college sports teams would be good for me to have unlimited use, but there are instances where it might be better to have the customer try for it.