September 5, 2010

Learn the Copyright Laws!

Anyone making and selling anything needs to be aware of copyright laws. There are tons of people out there using popular characters (Mickey Mouse, Dora the Explorer, Mario) on their merchandise without a license. Most of them are well aware that they are stealing property and will keep doing what they're doing until they are caught. Often, they will get a "Cease and desist" order - and if they don't follow that, they may lose their entire business and a heck of a lot of money in a lawsuit.

Unfortunately, some people honestly don't realize they're doing anything illegal, because they haven't done the research. If your designs aren't 100% original (including design, characters, fabrics, ect), make sure you're not infringing on any copyrights.

Most of the time, re-selling pre-existing items (whether they've been turned into something else or not) is fine. I re-use everything I can find, and it's perfectly legal for me to use magazine clippings or mickey mouse toys or whatever else I can find in my items as long as I'm not copying them.

So, items like my earth's green bracelet (made from magazine clippings) are legal - but if I decided to scan and re-print those images to make more bracelets I wouldn't be able to legally sell those bracelets (or even the images on their own). Be on the look out for copyright infringement in your supplies, too. There are a lot of people selling sheets of images for people making resin or glass pendants. If you buy their sheets and they have an unlicensed image, you could get in trouble for selling jewelery using those images.

Also, if you buy something featuring a popular character and it says "not for resale", you aren't allowed reselling it.

There are also a lot of characters that the bigger companies do not actually own. For example, Cinderella existed long before Disney got their hands on it. Of course, if you try to sell a drawing of Cinderella that is obviously based off of Disney's cartoon you will get in trouble. However, if you draw a picture of an original princess in a blue dress and call it "Cinderella", you are not in violation of their copyright.

I know that was a lot of random points. Maybe I'll go back and edit it later... we'll see. I've got work on my mind, but I wanted to stop in and say this while I was thinking about it.

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