I want to talk about copyright today so many people don’t understand it or chose to invent their own rules as a way to get away with it.

I’m no expert I’ve never looked into it as I never plan to sell anything remotely close to a copyrighted image or object but something I have learnt

It’s not ok

Sounds basic I guess but really it’s not ok to copy someone else design that is widely know. Disney is perfect example they are a huge company and if you are caught selling items that look like a Disney character, uses Disney fabric or resembles anything they make you’re in BIG trouble. Big trouble being they can and will sue you. They can and will shut you down. It’s also been reported by many that they even enforce the right to take every craft item you own off you including tools, materials you name it they can take it. Yes you can buy more but how fast will you be back in business? Not very and it’s a good message. It’s a scary message.

Saying that each company has their own rules. I’m told you can do what you wish with lego as long as you leave the logo alone. So if in doubt ask but don’t ever assume.

Inspired is not ok

If it looks like it, is recognised as it or is inspired it’s not ok. Even if you use different colours, slightly different name or shape its not ok. A house being held up by buttons? or birds? not ok lets face it we all think of Up straight away. A headband with round ears sold as the black mouse? nope sorry anyone heard of Mickey? Yeah me too.

If in doubt then it’s probably safe to say you can’t do it.

What else?

Well another thing I see and hear a lot is well there’s fabric printed with Disney characters on so it must be ok? It’s either unlicensed meaning someone printed without permission or its licensed and ok for use but never for selling only for personal projects.

You can’t sell patterns that make things either. Fancy writing a crochet pattern for BB8 go ahead but don’t sell it or offer it for free if you’ve a business because to offer something for free draws people to you, to your business. Those same people know about you and consider buying off you in the future. Therefore you have gained business from creating a copyright image even if that item is free for use. Bummer huh!

The same goes for competitions you can’t offer anything that will gain. However I’m told it’s ok to sell your second hand Disney toys even if you’ve a lot as long as you aren’t a business. Although there has been news that they tried.

I’m unsure how it works on blogs as you aren’t gaining financially so in that case best to not bother.

It also doesn’t matter if you only make one or two. It doesn’t matter if it’s only for a friend or family. If you made it and got paid for even just the materials you gained and breached copyright.

So in summary

  • Don’t do it ever
  • Inspired is huge nope
  • Check with the company most have enquires daily like this and will reply
  • Don’t offer for free if helps you gain customers or attention which will later help you gain financially
  • If really want to sell Disney save up and buy a license.
  • Phrases and logo are also subject to copyright

Another Angle

Say you invented something. A character or a product that was popular. Made you lots of money because we all say money doesn’t matter but we need it to live so yeah making lots of money is good! Then someone strolled along one day. A mum with twitchy fingers she copied your idea to make for her kids. Then her friends started asking her to make one, then her family, they their friends soon she was in business making hundreds off making a copy of your product. How would you feel? ok or a little wronged that she put no effort in. Forget the money side of it how would you feel this person getting recognition for something you poured your blood, sweat, tears and life savings into. Sacrificing your life for a few years to make it happen.

Yeah so copying other is not ok.

How to get away with it

To get away with not being seen as copying you need to change something with 5 obvious characters. These can’t include how it’s made, materials used, colours or other subtle changes. They have to be big and obvious and approved. Take the taggie for example doing a different shape, or using fabric instead of ribbon would not be enough. In fact any small tag like piece of anything between 2 layers of fabric in a shape that is 3d or 2d you would instantly think taggie. See how hard it is to change something because eventually you have a new product that is nothing like the old one.

Now majority of things out there are inspired by something else. Mickey mouse is inspired by a creature called a mouse that exists naturally. But you can’t copyright nature. Not much is original these days and someone somewhere will claim it as there’s.

It’s also hard to successfully copyright everything these days as some things it’s just not feasible to say that belongs to you.

If you’re unsure on anything contact your local trading standards office and if it’s something based on something else consider not selling it.



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