Is This Cheating Or Not?

Decorating By Bellatheball Updated 11 Jul 2011 , 1:29am by JanH

Bellatheball Posted 9 Jul 2011 , 5:43pm
post #1 of 48

I'm trying (desperately) to come up with a Justic League cake idea for my boys. My husband keeps telling me to buy the action figures intead of making them. It feels like cheating to me so I don't think I'll do it.

Do you use plastic figures? Does it feel like cheating?

47 replies
leah_s Posted 9 Jul 2011 , 5:55pm
post #2 of 48

I have to use plastic figures. Justice League is copyrighted. It would be illegal for me to sell such a cake. I can only make a background and add the plastic figures. Besides, then the kiddos have something to play with.

KimLynnC Posted 9 Jul 2011 , 5:59pm
post #3 of 48

I feel the same way. Personally I will only make my own figures and will never use plastic figures. On the other hand not every cake decorator can make figures very well so I wouldn't call it cheating to use plastic. I do think cakes with handmade figures are definately more impressive. Good luck with your cake, I'm sure it will turn out awesome.

Texas_Rose Posted 9 Jul 2011 , 6:25pm
post #4 of 48

I use plastic figures. I used to make everything, and refused to use plastic. I guess I was a bit of a cake snob! icon_biggrin.gif Anyhow, my kids kept asking me for grocery store birthday cakes and when they explained why, it was because they wanted the little plastic toys to keep after the cake was gone. Since I was making cakes mainly for their enjoyment, I got over my snobbery (haha) and bought the little plastic figures.

jason_kraft Posted 9 Jul 2011 , 6:40pm
post #5 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by leah_s

I have to use plastic figures. Justice League is copyrighted. It would be illegal for me to sell such a cake. I can only make a background and add the plastic figures. Besides, then the kiddos have something to play with.



Same here, you can get into legal trouble if you make your own copies of copyrighted characters without obtaining permission from the copyright owners first. Licensed toppers are fine though.

Kitagrl Posted 9 Jul 2011 , 7:37pm
post #6 of 48

She's making it for her boys, so copyright doesn't matter in the least.

However I do think boys like toys better than homemade figurines! Actually I don't even make my boys fancy birthday cakes...they just like to slap frosting and fruit or candy on their cake by themselves!

jason_kraft Posted 9 Jul 2011 , 7:41pm
post #7 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitagrl

She's making it for her boys, so copyright doesn't matter in the least.



As long as there are no pictures of the cake there would be no proof of infringement, but people have gotten caught for infringement on cakes that were not sold after pictures of said cakes appeared online.

Kitagrl Posted 9 Jul 2011 , 7:43pm
post #8 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitagrl

She's making it for her boys, so copyright doesn't matter in the least.


As long as there are no pictures of the cake there would be no proof of infringement, but people have gotten caught for infringement on cakes that were not sold after pictures of said cakes appeared online.




There IS no infringement if it is not being sold or promoted. Everyone knows that. Thanks for being the CC copyright police, though. thumbs_up.gif

Candice56 Posted 9 Jul 2011 , 7:44pm
post #9 of 48

I made my 9 year old granddaughter a tinkerbell cake and I used a few of the toy figures besides a few thing I did, she loved the cake 110% and she still has the toys to play with.. Kids love to have the souvenir besides some children don't see or understand all the time consuming work it takes to make those little buggers, it will turn out great your boys will love it and no your not cheating..

tiggy2 Posted 9 Jul 2011 , 8:33pm
post #10 of 48

I think Jason is right on this one.

jason_kraft Posted 9 Jul 2011 , 8:34pm
post #11 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitagrl

There IS no infringement if it is not being sold or promoted.



While the lack of promotion does reduce the risk of getting caught significantly, copyright infringement does not depend on the commercial nature of the transaction (or lack thereof). In fact copyright law specifically allows the infringee to seek statutory damages instead of actual profits.

Source:
http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap5.html

SugarFiend Posted 9 Jul 2011 , 8:55pm
post #12 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitagrl

There IS no infringement if it is not being sold or promoted.


While the lack of promotion does reduce the risk of getting caught significantly, copyright infringement does not depend on the commercial nature of the transaction (or lack thereof). In fact copyright law specifically allows the infringee to seek statutory damages instead of actual profits.

Source:
http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap5.html




I believe Section 107 here regarding "Fair Use" supports Kitagrl: http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#106a

Thank you for that link, Jason-kraft!

Ellie1985 Posted 9 Jul 2011 , 8:56pm
post #13 of 48

I don't think it is cheating. My figures all turn out short and stumpy. If you are making a generic figure of an owl or something that's one thing. But to make a figure of Dora or something like that and have it actually LOOK like it is suppose to it's HARD!!! Not all of us are talented enough to pull it off. Plus like other have already said the kids love to have the toys afterward to play with. When I got done with my granddaughter's Dora cake she pulled out the dining chair climbed up on the dining table and was touching and rearranging the figures are her cake. (I had to repair a few things afterward) She LOVED her cake! She is still happily playing with Dora, Boots, Benny and all the rest of Dora's friends and if I show her a picture of her cake and ask her what that is she screams "My Dora birthday cake!!!!!" Which makes all the hours I spent on all the little details worth every minute!

jason_kraft Posted 9 Jul 2011 , 9:02pm
post #14 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by SugarFiend

I believe Section 107 here regarding "Fair Use" supports Kitagrl: http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#106a



The fair use test is four-pronged, only one of which is the purpose and character of use (profit vs. not for profit). The other factors include the nature of the copyrighted work, how much of the work was copied, and the market impact of the infringement.

Fair use is really a moot point though unless you are willing to spend thousands or tens of thousands on a legal defense if you are sued -- the vast majority of cases result in a legal settlement. You might come out on top in an infringement lawsuit if your work was not for profit and there was limited market impact, but it would be a Pyrrhic victory.

There was a thread here not too long ago about someone who made a Juicy Couture cake for a friend (not sold) and was sent a letter from IP attorneys for JC with a $500 settlement offer to avoid a court battle.

I'm not saying no one should ever make a cake with a copyrighted character, it just pays to know what the law is and how it is pragmatically applied so you can make an informed decision about whether or not to make the infringing cake, take pictures of it, post the pictures online, accept money for it, etc.

tonedna Posted 9 Jul 2011 , 9:03pm
post #15 of 48

I dont think is cheating..Is just an option. You aint making a cake for a competition. Just for fun. Do them if you feel like doing them or just use plastic if you don't have the time.
Edna icon_smile.gif

artscallion Posted 9 Jul 2011 , 9:15pm
post #16 of 48

While it's true that there does not have to be an exchange of money to constitute copyright infringement, sugarfiend is correct about fair use.

The bottom line is that companies like Disney have several goals here. One, they don't want you messing with their image and having it look bad. Two, they don't want you to make a profit from something they created and should get the profit from. And three, they don't want you giving a replication of their product to others, even for free, because you've taken away the motivation for the other person to go to Disney to buy it.

So you can use a Disney pan or make a Disney character out of fondant for a cake for your own home. That's fair use, and pretty much what you do in your own home is nobody's business. i mean why shouldn't you be able to shape your hamburgers like Mickey if you want to for your own dinner?

However, if you start making cakes for friends and neighbors, even for free, these friends and neighbors no longer have to go and buy licensed Disney stuff to put on their cakes, because you supply it for free. That takes money out of Disney's pocket. And even if you are not too likely to get caught, it does happen. And Disney, in particular, is a stickler about hunting these kinds of things down and prosecuting them.

You can feel that it's ridiculous. Nevertheless, it's the law.

jason_kraft Posted 9 Jul 2011 , 9:21pm
post #17 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by artscallion

However, if you start making cakes for friends and neighbors, even for free, these friends and neighbors no longer have to go and buy licensed Disney stuff to put on their cakes, because you supply it for free. That takes money out of Disney's pocket.



That argument could be extended to cover making cakes for yourself. If you copy a character someone else created, you don't need to buy a licensed copy of the character (i.e. a cake topper), thus taking money out of the copyright owner's pocket.

This situation can be averted by requesting permission from the copyright owner first, but in many cases the copyright owner will not grant a license, and sometimes it can be difficult to even find out who you need to contact.

cathyscakes Posted 9 Jul 2011 , 10:27pm
post #18 of 48

Wow this has gone way off topic, I think you guys that love to talk about copyright infrigement should start your own thread. Us hobby bakers aren't interested in this topic, doesn't apply to us, so this is very boring. The original post had nothing to do with this, so why have you continued to talk about it, I wish we could stick to the topic, and not have some have to show us how much they know about something that wasn't even asked.
And to answer the question...I think it is wonderful that you are making your childs cake, that in itself will be so appreciated by them, you cared enough to make the cake, plastic toys or not, it doesn't matter, its special that care enough to make the cake.

OhMyGanache Posted 9 Jul 2011 , 10:45pm
post #19 of 48

OMG! I drew a picture of Sonic the Hedgehog for my son and posted a pic of my amazing artwork on Facebook. Am I going to get sued?!?

LOL!

As to the original question, I don't think it's cheating any more than me "cheating" by buying the plastic toy, making a mold of it, and then stuffing it with gumpaste - and then spending hours painting it so that it looks exactly like the toy. If I would just suck it up and use the toy, I'd save myself countless hours and dollars as well. icon_smile.gif

fairmaiden0101 Posted 9 Jul 2011 , 10:46pm
post #20 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by cathyscakes

Wow this has gone way off topic, I think you guys that love to talk about copyright infrigement should start your own thread. Us hobby bakers aren't interested in this topic, doesn't apply to us, so this is very boring. The original post had nothing to do with this, so why have you continued to talk about it, I wish we could stick to the topic, and not have some have to show us how much they know about something that wasn't even asked.
And to answer the question...I think it is wonderful that you are making your childs cake, that in itself will be so appreciated by them, you cared enough to make the cake, plastic toys or not, it doesn't matter, its special that care enough to make the cake.



thumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gif

artscallion Posted 9 Jul 2011 , 11:02pm
post #21 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by cathyscakes

Wow this has gone way off topic, I think you guys that love to talk about copyright infrigement should start your own thread. Us hobby bakers aren't interested in this topic, doesn't apply to us, so this is very boring. The original post had nothing to do with this, so why have you continued to talk about it, I wish we could stick to the topic, and not have some have to show us how much they know about something that wasn't even asked.
And to answer the question...I think it is wonderful that you are making your childs cake, that in itself will be so appreciated by them, you cared enough to make the cake, plastic toys or not, it doesn't matter, its special that care enough to make the cake.




Are you addressing me with this?

Coral3 Posted 9 Jul 2011 , 11:16pm
post #22 of 48

ON topic... I know exactly how you feel. It does kind of feel like cheating, using decorations that are not edible on a cake - well to me it does anyway. But ask yourself, is the goal here to make a cake that you can show off as an everything-handmade-masterpiece? or is the goal to make a cake that your son will love? Because the sad fact is that kids really don't care if it's all edible or not like we do...if your son is anything like mine he'd be like 'Wow, that's a REAL toy I get to keep!' icon_rolleyes.gif So if it's going to make your life a lot easier on this occasion, then I say use the toys. icon_wink.gif

icon_smile.gif

jason_kraft Posted 9 Jul 2011 , 11:20pm
post #23 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by artscallion

Quote:
Originally Posted by cathyscakes

Wow this has gone way off topic, I think you guys that love to talk about copyright infrigement should start your own thread. Us hobby bakers aren't interested in this topic, doesn't apply to us, so this is very boring. The original post had nothing to do with this, so why have you continued to talk about it, I wish we could stick to the topic, and not have some have to show us how much they know about something that wasn't even asked.
And to answer the question...I think it is wonderful that you are making your childs cake, that in itself will be so appreciated by them, you cared enough to make the cake, plastic toys or not, it doesn't matter, its special that care enough to make the cake.



Are you addressing me with this?



This was probably at my expense.

I apologize for those who already know about copyright, but I felt it was important to address some of the points posted here so people know what the facts are regarding copyright infringement and can make their own decisions accordingly.

On topic, I also don't consider it cheating to buy a toy -- if you compare the upsides and the downsides, the only downside of a toy instead of a fondant/gumpaste figure is that it's not edible, which itself is an arguable downside since the kid probably doesn't need the added sugar of the edible figure.

SugarFiend Posted 9 Jul 2011 , 11:34pm
post #24 of 48

I've done both for my kids. And after having gone to the effort of sculpting a Yoda <gasp!>, putting plastic Phineas & Ferb figures on my son's next cake really felt like a copout. But he's still playing with the Phineas & Ferb toys, and there's nothing left of Yoda.

It's not cheating, I don't think, but it's just hard for cakers to do. Even if we know our kids want the toys to play with later.

Don't feel bad, because here's another one: Nobody will be eating superheroes if you buy plastic figures. After decapitating Yoda and then watching his ear being nibbled, I swore off all character or animal sculpted cakes!

But it was still hard to do plastic figures. icon_rolleyes.gif

Texas_Rose Posted 9 Jul 2011 , 11:35pm
post #25 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft

Quote:
Originally Posted by artscallion

Quote:
Originally Posted by cathyscakes

Wow this has gone way off topic, I think you guys that love to talk about copyright infrigement should start your own thread. Us hobby bakers aren't interested in this topic, doesn't apply to us, so this is very boring. The original post had nothing to do with this, so why have you continued to talk about it, I wish we could stick to the topic, and not have some have to show us how much they know about something that wasn't even asked.
And to answer the question...I think it is wonderful that you are making your childs cake, that in itself will be so appreciated by them, you cared enough to make the cake, plastic toys or not, it doesn't matter, its special that care enough to make the cake.



Are you addressing me with this?


This was probably at my expense.

I apologize for those who already know about copyright, but I felt it was important to address some of the points posted here so people know what the facts are regarding copyright infringement and can make their own decisions accordingly.




I have to admit that it is getting pretty old. This was not in any way a question about copyright...the OP said that she was making a cake for her sons.

There are plenty of threads about the legality of various things, and that's where this discussion really belongs. I understand that some people here may have more experience with the business side of things than with decorating and the various issues that arise while decorating or planning to decorate. It's lovely that those people are willing to share their opinions and advice in business-related threads, but there's no need to turn every thread, especially those that are just about decorating, and especially about a hobby baker decorating a cake for her kids into discussions of what's legal and what isn't.

SAHCaker Posted 9 Jul 2011 , 11:41pm
post #26 of 48

Cathyscakes and Texas_Rose: AMEN!

The_Sugar_Fairy Posted 9 Jul 2011 , 11:43pm
post #27 of 48

Wow, I'm starting to come on Cake Central just for the drama! LOL! Some people really like to stir the pot! It's kind of funny, but I'm sure it's annoying if you're actually looking for a straight answer though.

The_Sugar_Fairy Posted 9 Jul 2011 , 11:44pm
post #28 of 48

By the way, I love what you said here cathyscakes!

jason_kraft Posted 9 Jul 2011 , 11:45pm
post #29 of 48

IMO it was especially relevant here, as it is the main reason I (and others) buy licensed figures instead of making our own copies, and should be factored into the decision even if the cake is not sold, considering how often pictures of cakes end up online.

But I think this particular dead horse has been sufficiently beaten so I suppose we will have to agree to disagree on the relevancy of copyright. At least OP is aware of the issue now and can read opinions here (and the facts of the law itself) to help her make a decision.

artscallion Posted 9 Jul 2011 , 11:48pm
post #30 of 48

Well I don't have any such history with this copyright topic. So, when I'm just trying to be helpful, then get my head snapped off, told I'm boring and to get lost, it makes me less and less likely to want to be helpful in future. If people have issues and baggage on both sides of this issue, they should aim their snark more directly to the person they have a problem with.

This place has gotten so snarky lately. I would never speak to people the way some do here. And I really pass over most posts and questions lately, even if I have an answer that will help, just because it's too much trouble to get caught in the crossfire from all the snark.

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