Episode 83: A Lawyer Is Cheap



 The Topic

Chelle’s Creations and the topic was tips for learning how to design. We got into a lengthy discussion about copyright and trademark and some of the legal ins and outs. We are not lawyers and are not giving legal advice. Please consult with an attorney if you have questions. ;)

Joining the Discussion:

Chelle’s Creations
Peppermint Granberg
Katie Nelson


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Chelle: wordmark.it
Peppermint: Photocopa
Katie: SugarHillCo



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This entry was posted in Chelle from Chelle's Creations, Katie, Peppermint, Show Post, Steph and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Episode 83: A Lawyer Is Cheap

  1. Lahni says:

    I’ve only listened to the first few minutes but I just had to add something about Persnickety. They do $5 flat rate shipping to Canada also! It’s awesome because more places charge an arm and a leg for shipping to Canada. Also, I created wedding invites for my brother and we ordered them from Persnickety. The texture they chose for their cardstock made the invites look pretty bad (something to do with the colours etc – not a fault of Persnickety) and when we called to reorder they gave us a great deal even though it was not their fault at all and they didn’t charge us for shipping the second time.

    • Shannan says:

      I’m in Sydney Australia and it’s $10 flat rate shipping for me, which I think is great. Pretty fast too – about a week and a half. Love Persnickety!

    • Rebecca says:

      Few and far between these days to find economical shipping to Canada. I love that Persnickety offers this flat rate and wonder why others can’t do the same.

      • StudioWendy says:

        I don’t know how they do it! They must take a loss on the shipping. I know how much shipping costs have increased over the years and it’s expensive to ship domestically, let alone internationally!

  2. Carrie A. says:

    Is it Digi Show time already? Haven’t listened to this episode yet, but I wanted to share a few things:

    Firstly, I’m finding that I have a hard time listening to the end of each episode because when I do I know the show will be over and that makes me sad. I do that with books I love, too.

    Secondly, I found a really neat blog post about shame and Pinterest. Pinterest is great, but it can make you feel bad for not being a picture perfect parent. You can read the post, Real Parent Pinterest, here: http://www.snagglebox.com/2013/04/real-parent-pinterest.html

    Thirdly, I stumbled onto a really neat thing on Flckr called The Commons (http://www.flickr.com/commons). It’s not new to me and may not be to you, but I was amazed at the collections. There are many non-copyrighted images and some museums that have specifically uploaded hi-res images so that they can be used by the public, requesting only that you send them a copy of what you’ve created.

  3. Kami says:

    This is an amazing discussion! I just wanted to stress something Katie said- copyright includes the rights to distribution. Even if you aren’t charging for something, you still can’t redistribute it, even for free. Just like in the entertainment industry, you can’t take someone’s work- whether it is a song, a movie, a graphic, a font, etc.- and redistribute it or give it away. The copyright holder owns the rights to distribution.

    I think this is really important because more often than not, I think people genuinely don’t realize they shouldn’t redistribute someone’s work for free. Especially when it’s something they’ve created using a digital scrapbooking product or something the designer is giving away for free themselves.

    A good rule of thumb too is that if you are downloading something for free that is being distributed from someone other than the designer or artist, it is very likely that it is not something the designer or artist has authorized.

  4. Candy says:

    I am about halfway through and I am fascinated! Ladies – the shows just keep getting better and better! Thanks for tackling the hard discussions with such grace and detail!

  5. Candy says:

    I had to come back and comment on the Facebook discussion. I know that sometimes I try to contact designers on Facebook because I have been repeatedly burned by designers that don’t respond via email.

    Facebook almost always guarantees a response for whatever reason. I am glad to know that some designers prefer email because I sorta love Facebook, but I really love email for most things!

    • Carrie A. says:

      Out of the few times I have contacted designers in the past year, three have not responded. Usually if I’m contacting a designer, it’s because of quality issue or spelling error or a something that isn’t quite right (unless it’s to profess my love of their product :) ). I use Facebook as a last resort to contact them about problems privately on FB because who checks that “other” inbox or publicly thru a wall post saying “here’s a mistake!!”–probably not what anyone wants potential customers want to see.

      The last email I sent to a designer was about a quality issue– one of the elements wasn’t usable. I never did hear back, which was disappointing. The issue was never fixed either (cause sometimes you contact them and instead of replying, they just post the fix– a-okay with me). As a customer, no response about a problem makes me hesitant to buy from a designer again or, if it’s club sorta kit or freebie, at all.

      If you aren’t going to answer your email, even to say “I’ll get back to you”, then don’t include it in your contact info. I’ve had other designers email notes if they are busy to let me know they’ve not forgotten, which I appreciate. A thirty second message goes a heck of a long way in my book.

      • StudioWendy says:

        I totally agree! Answering customer service emails is definitely the most important thing you can do. It goes a long way in building a relationship with your customers and keeping them coming back!

      • Lahni says:

        This worries me because quite often my email sends perfectly legitimate emails to my spam folder. I try to check it regularly but sometimes I forget and they get automatically deleted after a set time. Also, I have my designer email forwarded to my personal email address and almost NEVER check the actual account I set up for my designing. I bet I’ve missed emails that way too!

  6. StudioWendy says:

    Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and I do not play one on TV. Laws in other countries vary, and I’m only referring to the US.

    But, I wanted to chime in on font and typeface copyright laws. First, it’s important to define the difference between the two. A font is the software… the code, vectors and settings… for a particular typeface. The typeface itself is the distinctive way the letters look. In the US, the font (the ttf, otf, etc) can by copyrighted, but the typeface cannot. (The exception is if a font is a dingbat or pictoral font in which case the doodles/drawings/pictures are copyrighted as well.) The way a letter looks, in the US, is not copyrighted. Names of fonts can be trademarked as well. (Other countries do copyright typefaces.)

    So, I cannot redistribute a font file, alter it, sell it without permission, embed it into websites without permission, etc. under copyright laws. Most fonts do allow you to give a copy to a print shop for the sole purpose of printing your project after which time they are required to remove it from their system. But, other than that, fonts are licensed for use on one or more computers just like any other digital product.

    Typefaces are different, however. That is why you can find many different or similar versions of the same fonts. If you draw a vector of Times New Roman and produce the code yourself into a font software file, you can legally sell it. You now have the copyright on the new font you just created. Like the girls said about colors and themes, it wouldn’t be a nice thing to do, but you could, and many have. I have seen dozens of versions of Times New Roman over the years in my work in the printing industry!

    It’s my understanding after reading much in the way of laws and design websites and other publications (see disclaimer above) that turning a font into art, alphas, word art, etc, and selling that art is okay. The way the letter looks cannot be copyrighted in the US. You are not redistributing the font. You are the look of the letters in the creation of a bigger piece of art. That is legal, and then you hold the copyright to that new creation.

    There is one caveat to this discussion and that is that an individual or company can apply for a design patent to protect the typeface design. Design patents can only be applied for if the design is unique, not already in the public knowledge, last for 25 years and require a pretty hefty fee, starting at around $400 for an individual and $800 for a company. So, the reality is that not many fontographers go through the trouble of getting a design patent for their fonts. Some do, and you can search the US Patent website to find out if one exists for a particular font.

    That said, most fonts DO come with terms of use allowing personal or commercial use. Those fontographers who spent time creating that font deserve to be paid for what they do and have their terms honored. So, I always suggest reading the terms and abiding by the fontographer’s wishes, as well as paying for commercial licenses if you are going to profit from them. But, in the US, as long as you aren’t redistributing the font itself, and there is no design patent issued, copyright law is pretty clear that you can create art with them.

    As the ladies said, do the research yourself, and if you want the best protection, hire a lawyer to help navigate you through it. And to reiterate, it’s best practice to just read TOUs and honor the creator’s wishes. There are plenty of fonts out there that ARE okay for using in scrapbooking and design that there really is no reason not to stick with those. And as the girls mentioned, so many content creators are really friendly and honored to be chosen for use in a project and will allow it.

    PS. I TOTALLY agree about listening to shows you are on! Probably best just not to torment yourself with it.

    • Steph says:

      I agree with most of what you said, however, there is one little thing that I understand differently. I agree, from my research, that the only part of the font that is copyrightable is the actual vector shapes and font code that makes it work as a font. However, my understanding is that because of that, it is protected like any piece of software is with it’s TOU/license agreement. So, a designer could take a font and use it for inspiration to draw their own characters and make an alpha from it (if the fonts TOUs prevented the use in an alpha), but they couldn’t use that piece of software (the font file) to create the alpha IF the TOU prohibited it.

      I think this is a classic example of what Chelle was saying in the show, the golden rule approach… If you as a designer think that your TOU should be respected as a legal document because people are actually purchasing a license for use of those products as much as they are the products themselves, then the same would be true for a piece of the font files that you are purchasing a license to use. Which is what most font designers would say you are purchasing.

      • StudioWendy says:

        The way I’ve read it in the past, the second you rasterize it (photoshop) or convert it to outlines (illustrator), you are now no longer using the font and no longer subject to the license limitations of the font software. I did a bunch more reading this afternoon and I have found a reference to one person saying if you purchase a font with a license agreement that you are subject to that agreement, except for any parts that conflict with copyright law. So, that may definitely be a question for a lawyer to help decipher! Do those license limitations conflict with existing copyright law that says typefaces cannot be restricted? It’s definitely a complex topic!

        And I totally agree on the golden rule! I love our font designers… they provide an amazing service and talent and I’m happy to abide by their requested terms and pay for commercial use when applicable.

  7. Leslie says:

    Creative Memories no longer has the licensing for Disney products. They lost that sometime last year. I understood that one of the book makers (Snapfish?) now has the license, and you can use the Disney products on their books, but you, the user, never have the product itself. With Creative Memories, you bought the content and it was available to use on whatever project you wanted.

  8. Carrie A. says:

    I’ve heard people who use copyrighted images proclaim they’ll be fine because they are just a little person or are distributing their images for free. Every time I see a Disney character show up in my Facebook feed, I cringe a little for the person who created it.

    About 5 or so years ago, when I was making custom blinkies and sig tags, Disney started cracking down on blinkie and sig tag makers using their images. I know a few people who got “that letter” and lives were ruined over a hobby. Other companies and artists seemed to follow Disney’s lead. For awhile it seemed every month, someone else got a letter. The good piece that came from that is that was a new awareness of copyright.

  9. Amy says:

    Such a great show ladies!!! Through my work I have had quite a bit of experience with brands and licensing – many of those that were discussed in today’s episode. I don’t think people realize how important it is to follow copyright and trademark laws. Companies spend a LOT of money to develop their brands and on licensing and it is their right to protect them and they take that VERY seriously. Thanks for highlighting this important issue!

    I love how you guys talk about topics like this. The business side of things. Very informative.

  10. This was a great episode. I’m not a kit designer, but I appreciate your insight with regards to TOUs, copyrights, and all of the research that goes along with designing and selling.

    I don’t know if you’re familiar with Gina K, she makes stamps and cardmaking supplies. She got “the letter” from Hershey when she named her brown cardstock Chocolate Kiss. She details the story here on her blog: http://ginakdesigns.blogspot.com/2012/09/why-i-wont-buy-hersheys-chocolate-this.html when I read this story last fall it had my stomach doing the flip flops!

    Anyway, I’ve recently found the Digi Show and I’m really enjoying the podcasts.

    Thanks for sharing your chats,

  11. Rita Q says:

    Steph… I’m one of the other hold-outs for Facebook. It’s so bad that my daughters have threatened to sign me up under my dog’s name… LOL.

    Also, I wanted to reach thru my iPhone & hug Peppermint when she mentioned that she will email her freebies if someone isn’t on Facebook. I truly do understand why businesses, esp. smaller ones, need to lure customers to Facebook to LIKE their page but I get so frustrated. On the other hand it’s a freebie, so cannot complain :).

    Thanks for another interesting show.

  12. MitzyG says:

    Chelle mentioned that she used a Font Diner font as an alpha. I wish she could tell us which one(s) because it would be nice to have the alpha and matching font! I discovered Font Diner when my graphic artist used a font in my logo and I had to know which font it was. It sure looks like “Retro”…which I also now have in my collection, thinking that it will come in handy since my logo uses that font…

    Since she has the rights to use the font, why can’t we know which font was used so that we can purchase the match?

    PS…love Chelle, love Chelle’s alphas, love Chelle’s everything… Chelle is FABULOUS. Chelle…please teach us your fabulous alpha using secrets!!!!

    • MitzyG says:

      PPS…tell Chelle that if she makes a $15-$25 ebook/video class on how to make the cute alphas in her “samples” on her CU Alpha doodles. I love the options…outline, no outline, solid plus outline etc. But some lessons on how to make the samples would be fab. And BTW…did I tell you how much I LOVE CHELLE???? HMMM????

      • Chelle says:

        Um…I own 3 or 4 and Retro is one of them. You are welcome to send me an email asking what font I’ve used for any of my alphas. :)

        I will make a note of that class request. That would be fun!

  13. Candy says:

    Lomg comment– my apologies. I am really a paper scrapper whi recently had a revelation that I have become a digital scrapbooker when it comes to PL. I love the show and listen to every one. It is like visiting with friends and I learn alot and get great ideas for pics! I use PSE and a Mac. My laptop is now maxed outand I want to move my PSE files amd catalog to an external drive. I have done a really good job of tagging and don’t want to lose that. How do I move those files and make sure I can get to and find what I want. Crayon instructions please–this is new for me.

    • Melissa says:

      Here’s my suggestion:

      Buy external Hard drive connect it up to the Mac book
      Open PSE
      Go into folder view (which version of PSE? The menu/button moves around lol)
      Move your folders within PSE to the new drive, using the folder view
      Leave the catalogue as is on the MacBook unless you need to use it on another machine but to do so will require some more fiddling

      This is the quickest and easiest way no retagging, reconnecting or anything

      But there are other ways to do it

      Feel few to email me Melissa at mshanhun.com if you would like more help :)


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