The laws are what we abide by and help us behave in a civilized manner. And, not everyone follows the laws. I not only stop at stop signs, but look all ways. Not everyone does. The law does not dictate honor. Honor in my opinion, is taking such great care of the self, you therefore, take care of others.
I'm sharing, in the blog post, how I navigate and consider trademarks and copyrights. I do not suggest anyone follow what I do, but simply consider their own way of navigating these uncertain waters.
I am not an attorney:
Here's the deal, as far as I understand it:
I am not an attorney of law nor is this legal advice, do as you will. It's your path. I am doing what works for me. This is advice of honor. Honor is not legislated, as far as I know. If we raise the bar to the highest level of honor, which is an individual attitude, we can raise above the lowests forms of regulations.
Not everything I create, share and discuss do I offer for sale. That is an assumption made in the question - that my only reason for making things is to sell them. I make things because they delight me. I also have friends. I gift things. I see part of my responsibility as a creative human is to share inspiration.
I am in wonder at some things I create and want to share those creations. When I created the Snoopy soap I was stunned I could communicate this idea effectively. I've striven to avoid copying other people's work because I didn't want to be a poor substitute for the original. When I created the Snoopy soap, and had not seen Snoopy rendered by hand in soap, I thought it was kinda cool. I have not sold one bar of this soap, but I have gifted a few.
Years ago, I saw soap dough as a new medium. When I was asked repeatedly, "what is soap dough?" I explained it. I wrote three books on this topic to fully explain soap dough, how it works and how to create it. That's how much I was intrigued by soap dough. I took months - years - to put words down so you can read and understand. So, why wouldn't I want to share my soap creations?
If you watch cake makers you'll see they make sugar creations regularly with trademarked ideas. I wondered about this very issue, so I wrote to one. She told me that she does not sell anything that is trademarked, but only makes videos to show what is possible.
Moreover, the issue here is about building a business around someone else's idea.
Let's say you start your business by making Fight Club soaps. Fight Club, the movie, not only has copyrights, but also trademarks.
"The Difference Between Copyright and Trademark. While both offer intellectual property protection, they protect different types of assets. Copyright is geared toward literary and artistic works, such as books and videos. A trademark protects items that help define a company brand, such as its logo." Chron
Even if you don't do any research you know this term is from the movie, Fight Club. Let's say you make money on that soap. Now, the owners of those trademarks and copyrights can ask for a part of your proceeds. Why not? They created the idea and didn't give permission for you to use their idea. This was an idea that took years to develop, test, get financial backing not to mention all the blood-sweat-and-tears that went into this project. Seems fair and right? Be this trademark or copyrights, either way, it's not for just for anyone to use. But to enjoy.
Now, what if you use an image that is not yours to promote your business? This gets tricky because you are not directly making money from the image (printing the image and selling it) but you are leveraging that image to advance your business. How many times can you do this before you are brought to heel? And you, dear reader, would never! I wouldn't either.
The best rule of thumb is to build your business on YOUR ideas. No one can make a claim on your work and you will be in safe waters, hopefully.
Remember as a kid when you were taught to do your own work and not copy? That's a great rule of thumb as an adult, too.
I built what I do so much on a new idea that I brought soap dough to the foreground. I'm not saying I invented it directly. There are lots of great soap makers with years and years of experience who cottoned on to the idea long before me. I will say, I was the one who made the biggest deal out of it. I posted images of Soap Cookies before soap cookies were a common thing. I posted creations with soap dough before it was a coined term. Quite simply, I was and am fascinated by soap dough, so I shared this fascination.
Now, people are building businesses on the idea of soap dough. People copy my work regularly. I used to mind, but I don't, now. Why, you ask, (my very intelligent reader) is because copying my work (if one doesn't build their business around my ideas) is a way of promoting soap dough as an art form. And that, for me, is ideal. Fewer questions to answer and the general soap community is getting the idea of soap dough from everywhere. This freedom leaves me open to create more things from soap dough. And, that is what I do - create.