Copyright for Crafters - The Basics

Ok so this is a subject I am going to go more into on youtube but some thing that is highly covered over on the facebook group Hair Bow Making Advice - Supplies - Destash - UK

I will keep this brief (ish)

So the 1st thing you need to know is that copyright products are a complete no go for crafters legally. Massive fines are just the start of it.

So what is covered by copyright?

Copyright is a product/ image/ design etc that belongs to a company. 

  • All popular characters - L.O.L dolls, Disney, nickelodeon characters, Marvel and DC, Peppa Pig, Mr Tumble etc.
  • Charity logos for example - pudsey bear, comic relief, Poppys for The Royal British Legion.
  • Made to match prints - if a fabric/ ribbon matches a print from a brand it will be breaching copyright. Popular ones include Next, Ted Baker and Primark. There are of course many more.
  • Even bow shapes - you can not sell flat unmade products that belong to a company/ designer. Which is pretty much every available bow shape. You can not sell the templates from dies that you purchase - nor can you sell pre cut unfinished bows from these protected shapes - you can of course sell the finished bow.
  • Many designs on the market belong to small designers that have had their images taken with out a commercial license fee being paid - these would also fall into that catagory. 


What can you make with these characters?

To sell - NOTHING - at least not with out a license direct from the companies - these will mostly cost 10s of thousands of pounds! 

For personal use - Limited - 1st of all you would need to be sure that your products are licensed and that you have purchased from a reputable seller. Things that are licensed may include - dress it up buttons, ribbon on a reel with license information on the packaging (normally only available from places like hobby craft. Cotton fabrics - Most high street fabric shops do sell licensed fabrics - take a look at the edging of the fabric - there is usually the copyright info printed on the edge. 


How do you know if a craft product is counterfeit or not?

1st of all there are no licensed bow fabric suppliers at present. Unfortunately there is still a few out there who do supply these counterfeit products which does mislead people to think that its ok to do so. Its not - they just haven't been caught out yet.

If you see any printed canvas, leatherette, fabric felt etc you can guarantee that these will all be counterfeit products. As will all resins, bottle cap images ribbons etc. Unless the license information is there - it is not legit.


Can you make inspired by products?

No - if your item is inspired by some thing and you can tell what its inspired by whether it is colours that are clearly those of a certain princess you are treading on icy water.

The risks in selling crafty products made using copyright products?

  • Fines (big ones)
  • Stock being seized - not just the copyright stuff EVERYTHING
  • Equipment seized - Laptops!
  • Police & Trading standards knocking on your door
  • Losing your business/ livelihood
  • Potential prison time (yes really)
  • Massive stress going to court

and that is just the tip of the iceberg!

The good news?

There are millions of gorgeous fabrics and lots of fab suppliers with an amazing variety of goodies that you can create unique stunning bows with with out the risk of copyright! Create a product range and brand that is unique to you and makes you stand out - many many people run successful bow businesses and have never touched any thing copyright and any one can do this.


Here is an interesting read about 1 small business that got caught out! Not bows but it still applies.

Here is another interesting read about another that was caught selling counterfeit ribbon.