Dealing With Uneducated Public In A Small Town-Copyrighted Characters

Business By CountryCakeMom Updated 21 Apr 2016 , 10:15pm by loraloo

CountryCakeMom Posted 12 Apr 2016 , 4:24pm
post #1 of 11

Just curious how you all deal with a potential client that publicly say things like "I'm sure nobody is going to get upset over a 4 year old's birthday cake being super heros.", when they are requesting a baker to make them a superman/hulk/batman themed cake all rolled into one huge super hero cake, you know the kind I'm talking about.  This stuff gets posted out on
Facebook all the time, in search of, looking for someone that can make this....etc.  I get tagged by friends and customers  with a good review of my work, which I'm very appreciative for.  When I see it though, it's like (forehead slap)!  I kindly point out that it's technically unlawful to infringe on a copyright by going freehand like that for a cake, but that I could certainly order up a decopac kit and make something.  I'm one of maybe 6 bakers in this town.  I've gone as public as I can to increase my clientel and I'm following all the rules and doing things right.  I order form Decopac all the time for characters.  I don't have a store front.  I work in my own kitchen at home.  But then when they say, oh it's not a big deal, I'll find someone else that can do it.  First of all, it's not that I can't, I certainly have the skillset to make it, it's that I WON'T because it's against the law.  There is only 1 store front actual cake bakery in this town and so then she gets the order and she copyright infringes all the time and publicly displays it.  What???!  I'm not going to throw anyone under the bus and play dirty.  That's not my thing.  If she wants to chance it and get busted some day, then so be it.  I just keep repeating the law when asked why I won't make those types of cakes freehand. Which 80% of the time loses me that order because they are competing with rest of the soccer moms in town and want what they want.  How do I not damage my reputation while trying to defend myself against these people when they don't get the answer they want to hear and publicly want to backlash me for being honest and truthful? 

10 replies
Snowflakebunny23 Posted 12 Apr 2016 , 4:28pm
post #2 of 11

You can't.  Sorry, but if people want to break the law then unless you are willing to do the same, you can't do anything about it.  The only option is if you are willing to report her to the relevant authorities but as you have said, you don't want her to do that.  When you say 'backlash you publicly', how do you mean?

Webake2gether Posted 12 Apr 2016 , 5:07pm
post #3 of 11

You can't make people see or believe something they don't want to. We don't do them either and it's our  personal choice I know it's wrong and that's all I need to stand on. I have a character cake blog I refer people to if they have any additional questions about why it's illegal. I don't stand up on the roof tops and say it's wrong I don't need to. I simply say in order to accomplish a character cake these are the options available to us we are required by law to use licensed decopacs or edible images or we can do a background cake. We would lose them all the time but here where I am they are usually always the basement bargain hunters anyways. We raised our prices and almost instantly the character cake request have stopped. We are still as busy as we want to be and we are doing the kind of cakes we want and character cakes are not our hearts desire lol. In the blog post I state it's not a lack of ability or talent it's a legal and moral issue for us. I refuse to jeopardize my business over someone's cake and it says that in our blog too. Focus on what your doing for your customers and let everyone else worry about themselves. 

julia1812 Posted 12 Apr 2016 , 5:08pm
post #4 of 11

There is nothing you can do unless you wanna report her.

Copyright is a big issue it seems in first world countries and right so. We have stores in big shopping malls selling pirate copies of the newest movies and the streets shops are packed with 5$ gucci bags - all fake of course - but nobody does anything about it. Nobody cares. You can imagine that a debate about a superman cake doesn't even raise an eye brow here.

I think it's a good thing you stick to your guns! Yes, there is some quick dollars you can make by doing these type of cakes and yes, most people don't get caught. But like with all illigal doings "everyone else does it" is no excuse.

Flip the soccer moms and focus on other things you can offer. You said you are skilled so maybe focus on wedding cakes - no superheros here :) - or whatever. Let the others do the dirty work and I'm sure I'll pay off for you.

CountryCakeMom Posted 12 Apr 2016 , 5:17pm
post #5 of 11

By backlash it's the responses when I say sorry that's not an option, but this is what I CAN do for you.....And then the response back is oh well I'll find someone else willing to work with me, or it's not a big deal, why not?, or well thanks for your concern but this is what I want so I'll go somewhere else.  Those replies in my mind can be damaging to my business if the next customer comes along and reads the thread and doesn't understand the situation.  I know I can't control people badmouthing, but it's just frustrating.  I occassionally post reminders about what cakes I can do and how it's done and the reasons why of legalities against copyright and such.  But people read right past it and ask for illegal cakes anyways.  Just makes me want to pound my head against a wall sometimes.

maybenot Posted 13 Apr 2016 , 3:39am
post #6 of 11

I've tackled several very straightforward, factual issues in cake decorating with both decorators and customers:  copyrighted materials, plastic glitter [disco dust], and unapproved/banned food additives.  In each case, there is a wrong and a right--no grey area and no "choices" --other than to choose to do what is right OR what is wrong. 

My personal conclusion is that what matters most is that YOU choose to do the right thing:  no copyrighted stuff, no disco dust on edible portions of food, and carefully vetting and choosing ingredients so that you're certain that you're producing products that comply with FDA guidelines.  The result of this is that you sleep well at night knowing that you're RIGHT --and the bonus is that your product liability insurance will cover you if there's ever a problem............

I've concluded that 90% of people--both decorators and customers--don't want an explanation of why you don't/won't do certain things.  They don't give a damn about your "ethics".  They want you to say yes to what they want.  When you don't give them that yes, they turn you off and shut you down.  A very tiny number will listen, understand, and work with you, but most will try to convert you to the "dark side" so that they'll get what they want.  Since they have no facts to stand on [and you do], they'll rationalize, minimize, vilify, bully, mock, and deride you for caring about such "unimportant" things............of course, if it's so unimportant, then why do THEY care about is so much????

Save yourself some breath:  "Thank you for your inquiry.  I never do copyrighted products.  I can either do X, Y, or Z [see examples on my website].  If any of those will meet your needs, please feel free to get back to me.  If none of those will meet your needs, then I'm afraid that I won't be able to help you."

cakebaby2 Posted 13 Apr 2016 , 6:19am
post #7 of 11

This^^^^^ and I'd add that this type of client tends to be a cheapo anyway. You'll never educate them..the Education System failed to do that in 10 years. Why should your explanations get through their thick skulls?

Snowflakebunny23 Posted 13 Apr 2016 , 7:55am
post #8 of 11

If the backlash you are getting is on Facebook or similar then I would just have a polite but concise response you can copy and paste so anyone seeing it will know why it's not possible.  It's funny, I've had a few wedding cake requests for copyrighted stuff recently (grown women wanting Mickey mouse ears all over their wedding cake!!!) and I have politely said that I couldn't do that, explained why, and they have been completely cool with that.  Have to say that in 1 of the cases, the groom looked delighted ;-)  They have all gone on to order cakes, just without infringing copyright laws.  I guess I don't really do birthday cakes so it's less of an issue with mummy wanting a frozen cake for baby Alfie...

costumeczar Posted 13 Apr 2016 , 9:19am
post #9 of 11

Everyone's right, there's no "technically illegal to do it," it's just illegal to do it. But nobody cares, because people want what they want. I don't do copyrighted characters or logos unless I have permission from the trademark holder, so I got a lot of the same pushback and people not being happy with me, oh well. 

What I always said was "I can't do any copyrighted characters because it's illegal to reproduce them without permission from the company that owns them. I'm sure that you can find someone who's willing to do it illegally, but I prefer to keep everything legal and do things the right way." You could add that you have the decopac for this or that, but if they want to go to someone else you can't stop them.

CountryCakeMom Posted 13 Apr 2016 , 5:26pm
post #10 of 11

Yeah I totally don't mind doing the copyrighted characters as long as its a kit I can legally do.  I'd have almost zero business if I didn't.  That's all anybody wants to order around here.  I've done other things here and there and few weddings, but the demand and the money comes from birthdays it seems.  I have things I need/want to do so I need to keep with it.  It just gets frustrating when there are "those" people that give an eye roll and a "whatever" and want to be rude.  My personality is to immediately be like  "You know what?!....and give an education on how stupid they are.  LOL!  Buuuuuut you can't be that way in business and I don't want to appear as a rollover type any more and seriously want people to try to understand the do's and don'ts, period.  I like your response costumezar!  I may borrow that from now on. ;)  Thanks all for your thoughts.

loraloo Posted 20 Apr 2016 , 3:19pm
post #11 of 11

I went a a retail bakers meeting in Cincinnati earlier this year -- and attended a seminar on just this issue. The penalties are HUGE-- One baker there was forced to pay $60,000 just to get out of the lawsuit and was issued a cease and desist. I learned that not only can Disney sue you for this-- but also-- amazon etc. Anyone that holds a license to sell Disney can also sue. So let's be Honest here  Disney verses Amazon??? the big hitter here would be Amazon-- no way I want to tangle with either and list goes on and on. The seminar was put on by a law firm that has had to handle cases like this. Very informative!! So glad I went.... I too tell the customer its illegal but if they have a toy they would like to use _I can make a scene to go with it. There are those customers that aren't pleased with my decision--but in the long run---is that $200 cake worth it in the end--- or $20 cake depending on size and style?????  I am really surprised at the different videos and cake spotlights on this site that features such cakes---- REALLY????? Seems the site would want to encourage people to do the right thing. Personally If I were to copy a cake on here and was sued-- I would think cake central would be also liable--as they gave the impression it was ok.  Thoughts????????????? 

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