**This is where I cover my bases regarding my inability to recreate licensed or copyrighted character cakes or figurines.**
All licensed character shaped pans, candy molds and cookie cutters are for consumer home use only. Stores/Shops/Decorators cannot make cakes, cookies or candies from licensed products and sell them to consumers. These "mold-making" items are strictly prohibited from any type of commercial use since the licensor has neither the method to control the quality of the reproduction of the character nor the ability to earn royalties on sales of the "made" products. This applies to both baked & craft-type products.
Free-hand or copies of character designs cannot be drawn or iced on top of a cake, cupcakes or cookies and sold for any type of commercial purpose. Once again, the licensor cannot control the quality & is not earning a royalty on the product created around their characters.
Licensed pans cannot be rented to consumers by shops/stores/decorators since, once again, the licensor is not earning a royalty from the transaction.
Specifically, creating any type of image that looks like a licensed character that then is sold for commercial purposes is prohibited unless there is a specific licensing agreement with the licensor for that product and royalties are paid each time the product is sold.
Additionally- A customer cannot bring a decorator or store/shop a character pan/mold they have bought, and ask them to make the cake/candy/cookie in exchange for money. This is considered the same thing as above, because money is exchanging hands without the licensor earning royalties.
*The following is info I received during a Demo about Edible Images, from the Lucks Food Decorating Company:
A copyright protects an original work or creation and gives exclusive right to that work or creation to its author. Copyright law protects the author's/creator's work by prohibiting anyone else from using or profiting from that creation in any way without the owner's permission.
In reproducing copyrighted figures, it does not matter if the character is drawn by hand, added using an image projector, or put on a cake with a computer cake machine. If the item carries a © or ® or ™ symbol, then it is protected. using it without permission can get your shop, you and perhaps your customer in trouble.
Copyright protection applies to a number of things including but not limited to music, art, tv, movies, books, drawings, professional photographs, team logos and celebrity likenesses. This includes such items as:
Paper Plates, napkins, or other party supplies
Album or CD covers or Video games
Even professional use of character shaped pans of licensed characters which are licensed for home use only is a copyright infringement if used for resale of cakes.
Can it really hurt?
The answer is yes. Some copyright holders may be satisfied with a cease & desist order, others could choose to file a lawsuit. The court could award financial damages plus attorney fees. The copyright owner can collect damages without having to prove that your infringement actually cost them monetary harm. Fines can be as high as $150,000.00.
You will find more useful information from the U.S. Copyright Office- www.copyright.gov and www.copyrightkids.org