Hi Dianaguerrant, Thanks for your thoughts!
My photos are very clearly marked with the copyright symbol.
They even say underneath beneath the copyright mark that it pertains to the "Design & Image" as I do not wish for anyone to think it pertains to just the photo itself to avoid any confusion. I discussed it with my copyright attorney and he feels that it more than covers it. I have learned that when designs are documented in fixed format (i.e. - a photo as one example) they are protected by copyright. The symbol actually does not need to be there. I am actually nervous to write this as I do not wish this to turn into a discussion on copyright as that can be a sensitive subject, but I am just passing on what I have learned through research. Also, I do not want at all to make this about these exact cookies or this person. That would not be kind and I am not saying anything about 'stealing' or verbage like that. I do not wish to go after a fellow CC member who happens to be very talented and I am sure is very nice. I just did not want my artwork that is in my portfolio copied and I am just answering your question. You have a very good point about public forums and it is issues like these that are the reason that I no longer have my work available for viewing in any forums. Thanks for mentioning it though! You have covered all bases and your thoughts are very much appreciated!
Brides always bring me photos for cakes, also the brides who know me well trust my designs and give me free artistic reign,
Oh, that is absolutely the best!
To answer your question, I am strictly a cookie decorator, so I do not do cakes, so I am not dealing with the wedding cake realm that you are. When I have had people ask me if I can reproduce a particular design, be it a cookie they see on-line or a licensed image, I tell them that I am not able to reproduce those designs as they are protected by copyright or licensing and it would be illegal for me to do so. I just play it very, very safe. Then I see if there is a design that I can create for them that they like. That is just me though. I am only writing this to answer your question, not to come across as telling others what to do at all. That is not my intent in the least. Again, that is just what I do and only to answer your question.
Editted to add that I had stepped away to pack up boxes and realized that I forgot to mention what I did when I had two images that I did want to bounce off of. I was just thinking of the times when I have had people hand me a cut-out of a cookie design they saw in a kitchen store catalog or the times when I have been asked if I could do Transformers or other licensed images. I forgot to mention that there were two times when I saw images that I wanted to use strictly as inspiration. I asked read up on copyright laws and knew that I needed to contact the original creator of the image to ask permission to do a design that was done after being inspired by theirs. (I learned the term 'derivative work' very well). I ran the idea by my copyright attorney to make sure I was on the right track and he agreed in full force that that was indeed the way to go. In one scenario, I saw a cookie years ago in a kitchen supply catalog that I wished to do my own version of, but it would be inspired by that one. After umpteen calls, I got in touch with the right person in the right department, explained that I wished to do a cookie whose design would be inspired by that one, but not at all copied. I explained what I wished to do design-wise in full detail. They granted me permission so I was good to go. Without it, I would not have done it. In the second scenario, I wanted to do a popcorn themed cookie and wished to use just the word 'popcorn' as written on the box I saw at the movie theatre. Just the word, not the overall box. That took days to trace down the company and the correct department, but I was able to do so, explained that I wished to use the word 'popcorn' as written for my popcorn box design and was granted permission to do so. I have been fortunate when I have asked, but I don't do it often. I am more about the design process and really gain the pleasure in the design stage. I guess I am just trying to get some use out of that degree in graphic design and all that went into it.
I just love the designing process and truthfully, am really relieved when someone asks me if I can do a licensed image and I am able to tell them that I cannot as I really am not interested in duplicating licensed images anyway, but that is just me. I like that it gives me a nice 'out'.
Well, I am in the midst of a very difficult cross-country move with a husband who has been away for months due to his job and as much as it has been nice to dive into a mental break, I need to sign off as boxes are calling and I am afraid I have to unplug myself.
Thanks again for your thoughts!