Copyright law for fabrics

Discussion in 'Other Crafts and DIY Projects' started by I_like_melts, Aug 31, 2018.

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  1. Aug 31, 2018 #1

    I_like_melts

    I_like_melts

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    On occassion, I sew little bags to put my creations in or for gift giving. I know copywrited characters are a huge no no. I picked up a generic apple pattern and began to sew when I noticed the print "for non-commercial use only." The other fabrics I bought don't appear to have this and they too are generic patterns. Are they okay to use?
     
  2. Aug 31, 2018 #2

    amd

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  3. Aug 31, 2018 #3

    earlene

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    Last edited: Aug 31, 2018
  4. Aug 31, 2018 #4

    LilyJo

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    I think its similar to the angel policy that printed craft papers often employ - card makers can often sell a certain amount of their printed products but cannot reproduce and must sell within their specific limit of products.
     
  5. Aug 31, 2018 #5

    I_like_melts

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    Thank you. I try to stay clear of copywrited images and recognizable characters for that very reason. The apple fabric is a very generic pattern. The other fabric I have (leaves) has a copyright symbol, but no such warning.
     
  6. Aug 31, 2018 #6

    SaltedFig

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    The copyright symbol is the (generic) warning that the article is covered under copyright law.

    This link Earlene posted has a discussion on the reasoning and interpretation of the law directly related to using a licensed product (it's interesting, thanks).
    https://www.avvo.com/legal-answers/making-products-from-licensed-product-fabrics-sold-1508014.html

    I wonder whether there is a distinction made between the copyright of products, where one uses licensing to control the trademark/copyright usage, and where copyright exists automatically for original art (which allows the artist to put the copyright logo on the material)?

    I wouldn't be totally certain that the generic look of the design takes away from it's copyright, unless it is so similar to other designs as to be unable to qualify for copyright as a work of original art (and therefore the copyright itself could be contested, if it came to it).

    For the gifts, if they are personal and not to customers, then there is no commercial use.

    For the bags that contain your creations - it might fall into commercial use if you use these to put your sold item into for delivery to your customer (a fine point I'm not sure about, as you aren't making money directly from the bags, but from your own product, so the bag becomes the wrapping - is this infringement?).
     
  7. Aug 31, 2018 #7

    I_like_melts

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    When I make bags, its usually for small collab projects to make my things look nice. I was considering adding a few to my Etsy, but its too time consuming to really be profitable. I don't mind making 10 - 20 small bags for a project. Keeps all my stuff in one spot in the box, and they can reuse the bag :)
     
  8. Sep 1, 2018 #8

    SaltedFig

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    So it's most like the collage card artwork - their design has become a part of your commercial good and it could be an infringement of copyright. I wonder if they'd chase you for it? And if they did, whether it would stand up?

    Have you thought of doing a little design of your own? You can make something up on your computer and print it on paper that can be used to iron onto plain fabric (as an alternative ... then it's ALL yours :))
     
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  9. Sep 1, 2018 #9

    I_like_melts

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    I may do that in the future. The way I am reading it though, it *sounds* like if it has the "for home use only" (apples) I cannot sell it, but if its just the copyright symbol, then I'm covered under the First Sale Doctrine, provided I'm not copying the design in its original medium (i.e. selling yards of fabric). Or did I get this wrong?
     
  10. Sep 1, 2018 #10

    SaltedFig

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    From how I see it, the First Sale Doctrine stops you from reproducing the design and printing your own version of the fabric (and probably product using the fabric design as well) to sell, but does not impose any restriction on you reselling the now second-hand fabric however and wherever you choose (the copyright does not restrict reselling, licensing is what does that). So the apple fabric, being unlicensed, is up for reselling wherever you want as far as I can tell (like the salon shampoo example in one of the links above), but isn't necessarily available for you to use in your own commercial product.

    If you had substantially altered it, then you could argue that it has become a part of your original art (which isn't so, because you have simple sewn the material, unchanged, into a bag).

    I can't see that you are covered or protected against a copyright claim. But, is that claim likely? And even if it is (it's possible - generic doesn't mean the owner won't find the image online), would they persue it (is it worth it to them?) and could you defend against it (another near identical apple fabric would give a potential defense). I don't know. I might think twice if you are advertising your product with a copy of the bag (and it's image) online.
     
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  11. Sep 1, 2018 #11

    I_like_melts

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    What about the leaf fabric, which just had a copyright symbol on it with no wording other than a manufacturer name?

    If they *could* go after me, I am not using it period. The apple fabric (Copyright "for home use only") is not intended for commercial use, so it will not be used for bags. I'll find use for it around the house or do a giveaway.
     
  12. Sep 1, 2018 #12

    SaltedFig

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    I'm not an expert, so this is just my personal opinion:
    You aren't changing the image, but you would be using their image/art for commercial purposes, so my gut instincts says that copyright laws do apply, especially if they've put the c (copyright) mark in the print.

    If you have the fabric makers name (from the label), you might be able to get in touch with them to ask if your usage is ok with them (it might not be a problem after all - sometimes this sort of usage becomes advertising for them if you give credit)?
     
  13. Sep 1, 2018 #13

    I_like_melts

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    Just updating: @SaltedFig helped me track down the vendor, who had recently changed their name, to get answers, which are posted in their FAQ section:

    Some of your fabrics mention on the selvedge “License is required for any use beyond individual consumption.” Can I still make finished products with your fabric and sell them?
    This statement is used to protect our artists and designers from large manufacturers who sell to retailers in large quantities. If you are not mass producing a product feel free to create items with our fabrics for your local festivals and bazaars.


    So, in this scenerio, I am good to go for the leaves fabric, as it doesn't say "for home use only" like the apples fabric does, and it doesn't contain a character that would be subject to additional copyright or trademark laws.

    Thank you for all of your help! Who knew fabric could be so complicated!
     
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  14. Sep 1, 2018 #14

    earlene

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    When in doubt, contact the designer and ask the question. Otherwise, don't use it.

    I wanted to use a certain artists couple's music in my Dancing Funnel Challenge Video. They are very nice people with whom I felt I had at least a little rapport, and she (the wife) told me (in the presence of at least 3 witnesses) that I could make as many copies of the CDs or downloads that I wanted. This was back in May when she said that, but when I emailed the question about using it in a soapmaking video, they never responded. So I didn't use the music in the video.
     

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