Having written my last Blog about the copyright restrictions for the major events happening in the Summer here in the UK, I began to wonder how we could otherwise be inadvertently abusing copyright in our creations.
I believe that when we purchase a fabric, craft papers, beads and other elements they are considered unfinished items allowing us to use them to create finished articles.
Is it the same if we up-cycle items?
Are we breaching copyright if we re-use an item to create a new item?
We all know, or at least we should know, that Disney are hot on protecting their copyright over ANY of their creations; we also know that other film and TV characters are most certainly protected from reproduction by artists and crafters. So we can therefore, I think, safely make the assumption that unless we have a licence agreement with the original copyright holder to use their characters, we are not permitted to use them. But what about found objects or things like Lego bricks and Scrabble tiles? Are they still held by copyright restrictions of originators? Bearing in mind that these items were not originally intended to be used as components for jewellery.
I ask the questions but I don't actually have the answers.
I can make some assumptions in my own work. If I am asked to create a replica of someone's work then I politely refuse and explain my reasons BUT if I am asked to use items such as Lego or Scrabble Tiles I am not sure what my response should be; I have seen some wonderful jewellery items created from both of these items but does that mean there is no longer copyright restrictions on them? I have also seen some amazing cakes and cupcakes that portray popular children's TV and film characters, I am sure they are covered by restrictions. I have also seen some wonderful sewn items using the same characters ... should we make the assumption that the crafters/artists making these items for sale hold a licence to use the images?
If in doubt ask the original designer/creator ... don't use the Hello Kitty image or those wonderful Disney images unless you have asked for permission; you could find yourself coming up against legal teams that are paid your annual salary as a retainer to keep their client's copyrights safe.
You may find that some companies that own images/designs/patterns will, for a fee, offer a restricted use licence on their products. If you are a paper crafter you may have come across the term 'Angel Policy' where you are allowed to use rubber stamps or images from CD ROMS or printed decoupage sheets to create items for sale; some such items may include a limited licence to make and sell items using popular characters. Always make sure you know what you can and cannot do with the products you buy for your own particular craft. Do not make the assumption that because you have purchased it you can then sell the items you make from it.
Do you have the answers?
Have you personally experienced difficulties after using an item in your work; either from the original creator/designer or their agent whose intention it was to prevent you from making items to sell from found items/fabrics/beads/craft papers or any other purchased items?
Remember you need to protect yourself and your customers, so the onus is on you to be clear before using something (that may have a copyright on it) in your creations that you may later want to sell.
with fluffy love & hugs