Before I Say Yes... Can I Legally Make This?

Decorating By MJTKNT Updated 25 Jun 2010 , 4:44am by cheatize

MJTKNT Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 2:03am
post #1 of 26

I had a request for a Peanut's themed cake with Woodstock as the topper. I told the customer that I couldn't make Woodstock b/c he was a licensed character, but she could find a Woodstock toy and purchase it to put on top of the cake. The plan was a round layer decorated like grass with a carved snoopy dog house on top of it, and then she could put Woodstock on the top of it- but now I'm wondering- can I even make the dog house? I'm not sure if it falls under the copyright laws as a no no, or not? Help please!

25 replies
Doug Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 2:09am
post #2 of 26

re dog house --

if it looks like the one in the cartoon -- nope, that would be copyrighted image too. that dog house is famous and recognizable -- iconic in fact.

----

now of course, one could try to contact the people who manage the rights and see if they'd let you do it.

MJTKNT Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 2:41am
post #3 of 26

Ah, Doug. Thank you. I was pretty sure that'd be the case, but dangit it sucks! It's just a red house! ;D

sweettreat101 Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 8:30am
post #4 of 26

All you have to do is change one thing on the figure and you are ok. It just can't be the exact item in the picture. Add a monogram or a window to the back of the dog house. Just let the lady know that you will have to alter something. Maybe give her free reign on what she would like to add.

Cakechick123 Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 10:23am
post #5 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by sweettreat101

All you have to do is change one thing on the figure and you are ok. It just can't be the exact item in the picture. Add a monogram or a window to the back of the dog house. Just let the lady know that you will have to alter something. Maybe give her free reign on what she would like to add.



even that is not legal, if its recognisable as snoopy's house its an infringement of the copyright.

Karen421 Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 10:40am
post #6 of 26

Snoopy's dog house has clapboard that runs horizontally; you could make one that has a window and has T11 on it that runs vertically. Then it is a dog house or a play house and what she does with it is up to her.

TexasSugar Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 2:37pm
post #7 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by sweettreat101

All you have to do is change one thing on the figure and you are ok. It just can't be the exact item in the picture. Add a monogram or a window to the back of the dog house. Just let the lady know that you will have to alter something. Maybe give her free reign on what she would like to add.




If you put blue pants on Mickey Mouse it is still Mickey Mouse.

It doesn't matter if you chance the colors or change one thing, if the image can easily be reconigized as a copyrighted image, then you illegally copied a copyrighted image.

JCE62108 Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 2:42pm
post #8 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cakechick123

Quote:
Originally Posted by sweettreat101

All you have to do is change one thing on the figure and you are ok. It just can't be the exact item in the picture. Add a monogram or a window to the back of the dog house. Just let the lady know that you will have to alter something. Maybe give her free reign on what she would like to add.


even that is not legal, if its recognisable as snoopy's house its an infringement of the copyright.




Im not sure about that. At the grocery store I used to work at, they had photos of a green cookie monster and a yellow barney so that we could put them on a cake without worrying about copyrights. Those photos looked so old though. Maybe the laws changed?

I had always been told that you can change one thing as well. The color, a small detail (like you said, a window or something). This is how they did things at the bakery I worked at just 2 years ago. Maybe its different in different states?

Its not the same image if something is different about it. Just because it sort of resembles something recognizable, doesnt make it the same image. I do not agree with that. If you change something, it becomes your own creation.

JCE62108 Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 2:49pm
post #9 of 26

I can see that with the mickey mouse thing, because his character wears different outfits. But the house, I dunno. Its not a character, its part of the scenery. So if I put a tree on my cake that looks like one from "Peanuts" then is that copyright infringement?

MJTKNT Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 2:57pm
post #10 of 26

^^ That's why I thought this was tricky! Customer's changed her mind anyway! She couldn't find a Woodstock topper to purchase, so now we're onto a patriotic themed cake. Hah- HUGE difference, but at least I can freely do just about whatever I want with a patriotic cake!

TexasSugar Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 3:04pm
post #11 of 26

Those that have copyrights pay dearly to protect their images, I seriously doubt that if you change little things they would just go oh well, that's not what I drew.

"But Judge, really it isn't Snoopy's house, see it has a window." "Oh well the little yellow bird, yeah that's Woodstock, but it isn't Snoopy's house."

And just because someone else has done it does not make it legal, it doesn't change the laws and if you get fined, I seriously doubt so and so did it, or looked I changed something on it, will change their minds that you illegally reproduced a copyrighted character for sell.

mayo2222 Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 3:08pm
post #12 of 26

The simplest solution might be for you to just call/email Peanuts to see about recreating the dog house. The absolute worst they can do is tell you no and then you have a correct answer. Maybe they say no...but you could do this or maybe they say yes.

Doesn't hurts to ask

au_decorator_76 Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 3:21pm
post #13 of 26

With Woodstock on it I could see the copyright problem. IF it were a random red doghouse with a sculpted random dog in front of it, say a shaggy mutt with no references to peanuts at all there is no way anyone could say copyright infringement. A red dog house is just a red dog house. When you make it 100% exactly like snoopy's and/or add snoopy elements to it that's different.

Of course this is just my opinion on the matter. I don't have any expertise with it.

I'm glad they changed their mind. Keeps you out of trouble for sure! icon_smile.gif

MalibuBakinBarbie Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 3:24pm
post #14 of 26

I could be wrong, but I believe copyright laws may indeed cover "likenesses". However, I would do as some others have suggested and contact Peanuts explaining what you hope to do. If they give you the okay, be sure to get the full name and title/department of the person you spoke to in case you need it for future reference. Best of luck to you! Sounds like an adorable cake! icon_smile.gif

Doug Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 3:59pm
post #15 of 26

ok...here is a BRIEF summary of DERIVATIVE WORKS -- the part of copyright law that applies.

http://www.legalzoom.com/intellectual-property-rights/copyrights/what-are-derivative-works-under

nope -- making minor changes does not CYA!

it has to be a "new" work.

and nope -- no hard clearly defined guidelines

and note the comment that making a sculpture (which in our case would be the cake) from a drawing (the cartoon) IS a derivative work and therefore fully protected by copyright!

so that settles it.

the answer when asked to turn ANY kind of existing copyrighted work into a cake is:

N O !


Unless that is you get specific written permission from the original copyright owner (and may have to pay a fee)


and to those who would claim "fair use" still

N O !

fair use applies only for educational use in a teaching setting, criticism (think movie/play/book reviewers), news reporting, and parody --- which although Cake Wrecks reminds us is alive an "dying" on some cakes is NOT the intended purpose of a cake.


(oh and little side not -- NOPE -- can't copyright a cake. The design of it "maybe" but not the cake as it's a utilitarian object)

lmra323 Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 8:11pm
post #16 of 26

So, in reality, every other cake posted here is a copywrite infringement? Hello Kitty? Star Wars? I just saw one that had the Budweiser label that was re-written to say 'Dadweiser'

I totally understand both sides. I understand wanting to protect something you've created but then again, in this case, it's a dog house . . . a very common item. How does this pertain to team logos? School logos? Do they follow the same rules?

chachagyrl22 Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 8:38pm
post #17 of 26

From what I have read, if every cake posted on here was sold, then it would be a copyright infringement. If the dog house is recognizable as Snoopy's dog house, then it is copyright infringement. One can create thier own dog house. This is always interesting to me because there are many companies that go through great lengths to protect thier images, but some those images were copied from someone else to begin with.

TexasSugar Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 8:38pm
post #18 of 26

It is a copyright infringement of that cake was sold, money or other services exchanged hands and so on.

You can do anything for your family or friends as long as you don't charge, that is when it becomes an issue. I have several cakes in my photos that would have fallen under that if I had sold them, but they were free cakes.

Now you can ask for permission to use the image. You can always contact the team or school you want to use the logo from, and ask if you can. Some times they allow it for a one time deal, sometimes they may tell you to use it as many times as we you want.

People like Disney are the ones that aren't going to allow it unless you want to pay for the rights to use it.

PiccoloChellie Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 8:44pm
post #19 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by lmra323

So, in reality, every other cake posted here is a copywrite infringement? Hello Kitty? Star Wars? I just saw one that had the Budweiser label that was re-written to say 'Dadweiser'

I totally understand both sides. I understand wanting to protect something you've created but then again, in this case, it's a dog house . . . a very common item. How does this pertain to team logos? School logos? Do they follow the same rules?




Very few CCers (overall) are professional cake decorators. Most are hobbyists who make their cakes at no charge for family & friends.

If you don't sell an item or otherwise gain profit from it, it ain't a copyright infringement. For example, I could make my 9 year old niece an iCarly birthday cake complete with logo and as long as it's a gift there are no copyright issues. I couldn't, however, make one and sell it to a client.

Team & school logos are copyrighted. If you're going to sell a cake with a logo, you need to get permission from the team/school/brand/etc to use the logo on a cake for sale. If you're making your husband a Yankees cake for his birthday gift, though, it's A-OK without permission.

Doug Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 8:47pm
post #20 of 26

Simple test ---

do you profit from the creation in ANY way.

any way = $ or exchange of goods (they supply ingredients, they give any material object such as a bottle of perfume or a new lawn chair or a nice necklace or....) or exchange of services (they pass out your business card, mow your lawn, babysit your child/pet, style your hair, repair something for you, etc.).

If there is any way to show you received ANY tangible benefit -- then you profited.

Only INtangible benefits are allowed -- pride, joy, happiness, hoo-rah!, satisfaction, warm fuzzy glow, HA BEAT DOWN! MY CAKES DA BOMB!

sweettreat101 Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 9:14pm
post #21 of 26

A copyright is for that specific image, colors etc. If you alter the image it is no longer that item being copyrighted. Like someone else posted change the direction of the wood on the doghouse add something that's not normally in the image.

sweettreat101 Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 9:17pm
post #22 of 26

For instance how many copy cats of Barney have you seen. We had a purple dinosaur that looked like barney that sang happy birthday but had pointed teeth and a different voice to alter his image.

Doug Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 9:29pm
post #23 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by sweettreat101

A copyright is for that specific image, colors etc. If you alter the image it is no longer that item being copyrighted. Like someone else posted change the direction of the wood on the doghouse add something that's not normally in the image.




go read the regulations -- WRONG -- you would be creating a derivative work... and that IS copyrighted.

the gov's website even gives the example of someone doing a painting based on a photo -- different medium, lots of changes -- the photographer sued and WON -- won fines, court costs AND the copyright to the painting and all income derived from it!


Quote:
Originally Posted by sweettreat101

For instance how many copy cats of Barney have you seen. We had a purple dinosaur that looked like barney that sang happy birthday but had pointed teeth and a different voice to alter his image.




and as mom always loved (and some still do say -- good for them) and if everyone else was jumping off a cliff......

using others breaking of the law does NOT justify your breaking of the law.

Any of those derivative works creators COULD be sued, just lucky they haven't been yet.

and just two little examples:

http://www.snopes.com/disney/wdco/daycare.asp
http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2008-07-10/business/disney10_1_disney-clermont-unauthorized with discussion at: http://micechat.com/forums/news/99937-disney-sues-couple-one-million-dollars-wearing-winnie-pooh-costumes.html

the law is clear: NO without proper authorization (and often a licensing fee) from the copyright holder.

This is how DecoPac runs a successful business -- they license the images and then resell them to decorators. The copyright holder makes a profit, DecoPac makes a profit and the end user (decorator) makes a profit and everyone is happy!

What -- must I dress in drag to look like an old grandma and ask

WHAT PART OF NO DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND????

no amount of arguing it's not fair, yelling I don't like it, I don't care, But everyone ELSE is doing it will change the simple fact that..

NO you can't without permission and often a fee if doing for any kind of material gain or tangible benefit.

tmac670 Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 9:41pm
post #24 of 26

So, in reality I could NEVER make a red dog house for a cake?

Doug Posted 24 Jun 2010 , 9:54pm
post #25 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by tmac670

So, in reality I could NEVER make a red dog house for a cake?




depends.

if it is recognizable by a "reasonable person" as Snoopy's -- then no.

if it is "just" a red dog house -- yes.

and therein lies the "fun" of copyright!

cheatize Posted 25 Jun 2010 , 4:44am
post #26 of 26

My grandma's basement had Hanna Barbera characters painted on the walls. I loved them. They were magical. I swear they moved and spoke to me. I don't know who painted them but they were really good.

Poor Yogi was bootleg. icon_sad.gif

I'm glad I didn't know that then.

I completely agree with Doug.

I also think if I ever needed to do a copyrighted character, I would have to hire a lawyer first to CYA. That would be one very expensive cake!

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