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Card Making Copyright

 There's masses of information out there on the internet about copyright law - acres of verbiage so that you can become the World's Copyright Expert. But you're just a cardmaker who is constantly being advised by well meaning friends, barrack room lawyers and, it has to be said, by some haughty craft websites about the cardinal sins you're commiting when all you thought you were doing was making lovely cards for pleasure or a small measure of profit.

There's such a nicely written piece, specifically for card makers, on the subject of copyright on madaboutcards that this piece could stop here.
However, despite that definitive article, there appears to be lots of confusion still out there, and there's no harm in expressing the same view in a different way

Our sponsors Imag-e-nation,The Home of Card Making do not believe that there is a significant copyright issue for most card makers who sell their cards in the sort of quantities one would reasonably expect from a crafter. It would be for the Courts to decide where the dividing line lies between being a crafter and what might be regarded as being a small commercial card company

Below, we show an exchange of views expressed recently by card makers on a Forum.You will see that there are differing views but what is very clear is that there is genuine fear, among some, of breaching copyright rules when making cards and particularly if those cards are offered up for sale

Guarantee by imag e nation

Because of the perceived grey areas in copyright law, and the fear and anxiety this causes, imag-e-nation is now removing the doubt by hereby guaranteeing (insuring) cardmakers who make and sell cards using products bought from imag-e-nation that, providing they are crafters and not commercial card companies, they will be indemnified in respect of any financial burden because of breach of copyright.
For the sake of clarity, imag-e-nation defines a crafter as one who does not sell more than 2080 cards per year nor more than 250 cards of the same design per year.
This is an arbitrary figure chosen in the belief that the guarantee (insurance) will apply to most, if not all, crafters.and will not apply to those, whose level of card production, puts them in the category of a commercial venture.

Buy your purpose made craft products exclusively from imag-e-nation or, more practically, seek a similar guarantee (insurance) from other suppliers. Ask the more haughty suppliers if you can forgo clogging up the back of your card with some sort of copyright acknowledgement as it tends to diminish the "handmade with love" effect. Ask.the Companies who still require that cards must be sold locally if, in the 21st Century Global Village, they will regard your website as selling locally. Surely it's mass production they're against, not where or how you sell them

There is an American website that shows the Angel Policy of Rubber Stamp Manufacturers and this is worth a reassuring look

As regards non purpose made items used on cards eg wrapping paper, wallpaper, beer bottle labels, cigarette packets, serviettes etc it is, in our view, inconceivable that you would face a problem if you use the item itself and do not use multiple copies of that item that you or someone else might have run off .


Exchange of Views

(It is possible that in reproducing these comments we could be judged to be in breach of copyright. If anyone objects to their comments being used, albeit anonymously, we will apologise and remove them. We use the comments because we believe this exchange of views will be useful to anyone coming new to the subject)

A To put my mind at ease, seeing as I am a keen card maker, I thought I would look into this copyright issue a bit further. I have previously read some posts before about the use of wrapping paper/wallpaper in making cards, and as I use both things for my cards I was a little alarmed/confused that I may in fact be breaking the law. So from all the links posted on messageboards I did some research and found this -

Read the information at the top of the page then you want to click on G21 Craftworkers

B Hi , I got in touch with the wrapping paper producers a few different ones. now only one said it was ok to use their paper ALL the rest said NO i couldn't even though i wasn't scanning it just useing paper bought over the counter...and then i would of course go and buy more... SO no you just cant use these to put on cards for sale have you read L's message very interesting late yesterday eve.

C This is just my personal opinion and I know you have gone to the trouble of contacting these wrapping paper companies, but I feel that they probably just said no just to cover themselves - they (or the person you spoke to) may not even know themselves what the do's and don'ts are concerning copyright. I am however, going to continue using wrapping paper in my cards for sale, as long as I don't copy the paper in any way.

D I did read L's and your posting from last night, it was what provoked me to look into copyright further. I don't know why information about copyright isn't discussed more - even when I did Graphic Design at college, it was barely touched upon.

E Please see the information on copyright on (click on 'Useful stuff' at the bottom of the page). Law on copyright has been agreed by many countries, including the UK and Australia. There is no problem in using wrapping paper on a card for sale as long as you don't actually copy it. If anyone has approached a company who has says no, their reason for doing so is nothing to do with copyright law and is probably because they are not sure about the right answer themselves.

F Coming out of China there are millions of items which are snide ie unlicensed rip offs in everything from disney stickers which you might innocently buy in a retail shop to major fashion/designer items of clothing, perfumes etc.Rip offs of the movie and music industry proliferate.There is a multi trillion dollar "breach of copyright" industry.
So lets get real. You are using a stamp that was purpose made for stamping, etc You buy or acquire wrapping paper, wallpaper, wine labels etc . Use them as you will, including recycling for another purpose.thats good, thats green, you ought to be congratulated for saving the planet
Who are these Greeting Card Police that you are scared of and if you get caught by them what do you suppose they will do to you.
Personally, none of these things concern me a jot

G hi ...well you will soon know who they are it is the law and you shouldnt encourage people to break it. they are trading standards for one. stamps and everything else we use in card making is mainly for personal use only. that isnt selling.

H I'm sorry you feel they way you do but I have been doing shows for over 20 years and i have seen stalls closed down also trading standards do go to these places.
just recently a lady has found out the cards she has been making of the flower fairies wasn't allowed and has to buy a licence to continue to make them. could set her back £2000 upwards. so all you crafters think on it's not clear cut.
I have a few cards for sale in a shop and when I was there a few weeks ago Trading Standards actually visted the shop. Thankfully my cards were made of copyright free (as afar as I am aware) materials. It goes to show what S mentioned too - you have to be very careful to stay within the law.

I Hi, I have looked at madaboutcards and do take issue with a few things that are said...for one I understand that she is saying you can sell sizzix die cuts just the shapes. I have been in contact with sizzix and they say a firm NO you can't do this. what you can do is make cards up using the die cuts, but you can't sell the shapes only.
Well I hope that all this copyright gets sorted soon . we card makers need it to be more clear cut.
As L said if we have 3 and under working for us it ought to be said we can use on cards for sale. as we would never be making 1000's. and lets face it do we want 1000's all the same...NO we want a selection.

J As there has seemed to be so much confusion on the issue of copyright, I have written what I think to be a clear explanation of it on our website ( I don't believe that there are any grey areas at all but still a few people seem to be confused. Copyright protects the designer and means that no-one else can rightfully copy that design and produce their own item. Eg. peel-off stickers, other card-making embellishments, wrapping paper etc. - it is the item itself that you cannot copy. Ie. you can't use the design of the peel off sticker, produce sheets of your own and sell them. You CAN use them on your cards for sale as you have not reproduced the article itself. You can sell Sizzix shapes or cards made with them in a 'local and limited' manner, ie local craft fair. You CANNOT sell Sizzix shapes on the internet. There is a bit more too it than I've mentioned here but please do look at the information at - click on 'Useful stuff' at the bottom of the page.

K ... I attended a small business course recently re my card making to keep on the right side of the Tax man. We had a talk with a man who works for some goverment organisation (e-mail me if you want the details) and when I asked him regarding copyright for cardmaking things this was his reply: Rubber stamps - every company has a different policy, get a written copy from each company that you have stamps for and check their policy. Wrapping paper/wall paper/backing paper - NOT illegal to use this for cards to sell and would be very difficuly for a company to claim copyright unless you actually copied the design ie photocopied/scanned etc. Beads/embellishments etc - unless these are obviously handmade then there is no way a company could prove that the object "belongs" to them ie how many companies produce small yellow beads??? He also said that if a company is producing an item for card making (rubber stamps/backing papers/embellishments etc) then they wouldn't have a leg to stand on with regards suing you because this was it's intended purpose. Protecting a card design - again very difficult unless you make two of every card and send one to yourself and keep one in a sealed envelope with the date stamp clearly marked which is not practical as this doubles the cost of every card but if you are producing say wedding stationery one more isn't a problem then storage space becomes an issue!! And unless you are produding cards in the 1,000's or selling them to a cardchain then again it's not really an issue. The other thing is that there is not really a registered copyright law in this country which complicates things even more but which means that although something has the copyright symbol it just means "I've designed this please don't use it" and not "use this and you'll end up in jail". I use all sorts in my designs and will not be worrying about the copyright of most things but I will be getting the policys from the different companies just to see what they say more than anything. Hope this helps.

We hope it helps too...

This piece on copyright law is the intellectual property of Jon Bratton, A.C.I.I. (Associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute, by examination, for 36 years) Permission is hereby granted to anyone to reproduce it, as they wish.