This page is dedicated to the Home Based Cake business with helpful links and information for the at-home cake business. This is a resource page to help the user find links and helpful information pertaining to the business of cake.
Helping & supporting each other to be better business people is the goal.
Now for the disclaimer: The information and links here should not replace proper legal advice or further research by the user. Laws vary in different states, counties, and municipalities so I strongly urge users to contact the proper organizations and government agencies that regulate the pertinent laws and regulations in the area they live in. The Cake Room, LLC is not liable for any damages incurred for use of the information contained on this page.
Contracts and Other Helpful Articles
These are links to sites that I found informative and useful for conducting business.
The penalty for violating copyright laws can include hefty fines, which, If I am correct, accrue per violation. Sell 24 copyrighted images for cupcake toppers and that fine can really jump! Most of the time you can get permission by calling the company or school who owns the rights. I recommend getting permission in writing and keeping that in your records forever. With Pinterist and other social sites your work can be floating around for decades if not forever. To make this point I made a navy cake with the navy seal on it about 10 years ago and periodically I get a call mentioning the cake and checking to see if I got copyright permission to use the actual Navy Seal.
I have been told that a Cease and Desist Order will be issued by most companies who learn a cake decorator is violating their copyright. I heard in the news several years back of a bakery in the south going out of business while fighting a local college over copyright infringement. We know of two bakeries (not disclosing who for privacy sake) in Oregon who lost their businesses because of copyright violation. It is one thing to be a mom making a cake for your kids, although that is still an infringement, and being a business making money off copyrighted material. It is a gamble every time you do it. Moreover, lack of knowledge on the subject is not a viable defense.
Conducting business with integrity is important. I wouldn't want another decorator to take my materials I made for a class I teach and copy them to teach their own class. So why would I do that to another company? Whether it is edible images, modeled characters, or 3D cakes a violation is a violation.
So, how can you make these character cakes and not violate the copyright laws? There are a lot of direct licensees out there who have properly acquired the rights to make products using copyrighted material. A great example of that are the companies selling professional and college sports team clothing. They pay handsomely for those rights. The last time I looked it was $110,000/year plus commissions for the NBA! There are several cake companies who make licensed edible images. You can also buy licensed characters from Disney and other companies like Lucks who make products specifically for the cake decorating industry. Making a cake which you put licensed characters on is okay. That being said, speak with your lawyer to get the definitive rule on that.
There are websites where you can buy licensed clipart and photos for personal use or professional use. Be sure to buy the version for professional use. Depending on the site you can buy for a single use, a specific number of uses, or unlimited uses. You can also get free clipart and photo images if they are public domain, fair trade, or royalty-free.
One last thought on the subject because Disney is the biggest request I get. There are several stories, like Cinderella, that originated from a book or other story. You can create your own design of Cinderella, based on the book that is now public domain. You cannot simply reinvent a blonde haired, blue dressed Cinderella. You cannot simply change a few things or a percentage of things from the Disney version and not be in violation of their copyright. I advise either reading the laws to get the wording or discuss this with your lawyer. My personal choice is that if you look at it and you can identify it as the Disney version in any way you are in violation.