Copyrights when selling personalized products - Mr Beam explains it
Personalized products tailored to target groups are in vogue. With a laser machine , you have endless possibilities to produce and sell designs that are perfectly tailored to the wishes of your customers. In order not to receive warnings, it is important that you take care to strictly avoid copyright infringements from the start.
Your advantage: Your own designs are also protected by copyright and may not be used by third parties without your consent.
What is copyright and what does it protect?
Copyright serves to protect the personal intellectual property of an author - i.e. the person who created a work - from the moment of its creation. He or she alone has the right to dispose of their own creative work. Only the author may reproduce, distribute, make available, broadcast and perform his/her work, e.g. B. by:
- published the work online
- reproduces the work and offers it for sale
- created modified works from the original
What is copyright?
Copyright includes works of language, e.g. B. in the form of texts, speeches and computer programs, photographic and film works, musical works, works of dance art and pantomime as well as representations of a technical and scientific nature, e.g. B. Plans, sketches, tables, etc.
In contrast to industrial property rights, it is not necessary to deposit or register the copyright. Copyrights are not for sale. However, authors can grant third parties so-called rights of use within the framework of licence agreements, which allow them to edit, reproduce and sell intellectual works, among other things.
When does copyright end?
All copyright regulations can be found in the German Copyright Act (UrhG). Section 64 UrhG, for example, stipulates that the work expires 70 years after the death of the author. Once the protection period for a work has expired, it enters the public domain and may be used without the consent and remuneration of the author or the current rights' holder. Commercial use is then also permitted.
Purchase fonts, graphics and illustrations on sales platforms
Many proud Mr Beam owners draw on the talents of designers and illustrators to embellish and customize their own products. That's perfectly fine as long as you don't infringe on the artists' copyrights. In plain language, this means that you may not use, reproduce and, above all, sell any work without the express permission of the intellectual creator.
If you buy digital products on online marketplaces - like Etsy, Creative Market or Creative Fabrica - the copyrights belong to the designers who offer their work for sale. At Etsy, for example, each provider regulates whether and in what number the designs may be reproduced. Many creators charge higher prices for commercial use or limit the number of products that can be sold using their designs.
If you are unsure about the interpretation of terms used - such as commercial use or extended commercial use - you should check directly with the provider or the customer service of the platform to ensure that you are allowed to use the works according to your wishes for personalized products.
Be careful with Disney characters, series, film and comic heroes
Products with well-known series, comic and film heroes are very popular. Disney characters and superheroes are popular with both children and adults. Unfortunately, you must not give in to the temptation here either and use them freely to personalize your own works. Rights holders - like Walt Disney - demand licence fees for every product with the sometimes world-famous characters.
An example: In 2021, the copyrights to the cartoon characters Winnie the Pooh and Mickey Mouse expired. However, the expiration of copyrights only applies to the first creations. The originals have been repeatedly revised over time and can be attributed to different authors. As part of each revision, independent works were created, for which a new term of protection began. If you want to be sure, you should do some detailed research or just leave the popular comic heroes completely alone.
Implement your own ideas and commission designers
If you do not have the know-how to create your own illustrations, graphics and designs, you can commission a designer to implement your ideas or to provide you with ideas that you have developed yourself. In order for you to be able to use the created works freely, the service provider must expressly transfer the rights of use to you. With this solution, you have individual designs and can be sure that you are not infringing on copyright.
Platforms like fiverr.com, where you can find designers, also grant buyers the rights to the delivered work by default. However, it is important to read this carefully as well, because sellers have the option of adjusting the assignment of rights on their service page according to their own wishes.
Don't infringe copyrights - keep your eyes and ears open
The dangers of violating copyrights are great. Fonts, graphics and illustrations available on the Internet are protected by copyright. If you want to use individual works to design your personalized products, you must have usage rights that include commercial reproduction and sale. It's worth investigating so that you don't have to make subsequent payments to the rights' holder. If in doubt, there are many other great designs and fonts that you can use for your own creations.
Note: The content of the entire range of information does not constitute legal advice, because it is only a general presentation of the legal facts and because individual cases are not dealt with.
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