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Plates: Here is a site for plate pictures, (China patterns are probably protected by copyright. The images on websites certainly are. You could contact China companies and ask permission to miniaturize their patterns, they may be happy to give it!)

Marlene Chapman-Ontario

Make your own dish decals...Model railroad catalogs carry lots of ready made decals, right? They also carry plain sheets of decal material that can be used with your ink jet printer. It comes in clear and colors. Just print onto it from your computer and apply as any other decal to dishes, furniture, bottles/jars etc. Whether or not old china patterns are protected (copyright) is a good question. I would suggest going to public domain clip art programs and/or sites and copy away!

Another technique for making "china" patterns: The craft stores sell special paper napkins that are printed with beautiful patterns. You peel the layers apart. Then you coat a dish with a special glue adhesive and lay the paper in it. You then apply several thin coats of the glue. It's a type of decoupage. Can't see why that wouldn't work with Chrysnbon dishes...Any body tried it?

Kathy in Wisconsin

Sheet Music Copyright: It is my understanding that copyright law allows the sheet music purchaser to make one "working copy" for personal use during practice and performance. This allows a musician to a copy to mark up according to the needs of a particular director, while keeping the main copy clean for the future.  It also allows one to make a copy that will stay open and flat on a music stand, which bound music most certainly does not. For mini-ing, I think it would not violate the composer's and publisher's copyrights to provide your personal mini musician with a single "working copy" of a piece of music which you yourself have purchased.


Copying: I was told in a workshop on the Business of Art that if an artist uses an idea but changes it by 30% or more, it may be con-sidered out of copyright. When a book on technique is published the author expects you to use the techniques and the art work may be a springboard to your own creative work. When you look at another artist's work and say, "oh I can do that," and then you go home and copy it exactly (or almost), that is true copyright infringement. Why would anyone even want to copy someone else's work and call it their own. That person must be very insecure - to want praise and adulation for something someone else created.

I once did a pen and ink drawing of a hula dancer using a photograph in a book. I believe it was changed by more than 30% but I did send a photocopy to the photographer and asked him if I might use it. He said he would consider it copyright infringement and of course I never did use it (except for my wall).

If you are just learning how to do something, like making dolls, practice using the techniques you learn from someone else, and then try making your own. It probably won't come out perfect at first, but the teacher learned by doing it over and over, and you will too. And then you can be very proud because that work is truly yours!

Jacqui in Hilo, Goddess of Chaos

Image Copyright: As the owner and editor of an e'zine, I can tell you that if you own a clip art program, then you own those images and can do with them what you want. I have a great one with tons and tons of fabulous artwork that I plan to use for paintings in my dollhouses. If you want to use something you find on the web, the best thing to do is email the web person for that site and find out if they will allow you to copy the image. 9 times out of 10, it won't be copyrighted -- and if it is, I bet telling the owner you want to use it privately in a dh will get you permission.

Check the small print on those clip art copyright notices. Dover, for example, frequently states "These images belong to Dover Full-Color Electronic Design Series. You may use them for graphics and crafts applications, free and without special permission, provided that you include no more than ten in the same publication or project." And there is more... Some I have seen limit it to only four in the same project!


Raggedy Ann & Andy: Regarding making mini Raggedy Ann's: perhaps someone else has more information on the subject, but at a show several years ago, I was told the company who held copyright on Raggedy Ann was actively protecting their copyright with lawsuits. I do know about that time I saw a lot of stuffed dolls that LOOKED like them but were labeled with other names. Other companies such as Coke, Disney and professional sports teams have brought legal action against persons using their logos, figures, etc. It is a shame that nasty legalities have to invade the miniature hobby, but unfortunately it is a fact of life, like it or not. A few years ago, in this area a lawyer representing Disney found some mom-and-pop minimarts selling caps with Disney characters and some had to pay hefty fines. I used to sell quarter inch scale Coke machines, but before I displayed them I asked for a letter from the manufacturer saying that they were authorized by Coke. I do not believe a person making these items for themselves or friends have any worry, but selling them presents a possible, though not likely, problem. I suppose you could decide the possibility of being caught is so small not to be a cause of worry.

Dean Jenson

Copyright: I agree that if someone BUYS a pattern to make something for resale that it is all right. A lot of people do not buy patterns to just make things for themselves. The same holds true for a DIY kit. If you buy a kit, put it together and then resell it as a finished product, that is okay too. I don't think many people would buy a DIY kit or a pattern if they could not resell the product. Look at all of the Simplicity, Vogue, Butterick, etc. patterns of stuffed animals, purses, hats, etc. that people buy patterns for to make items for resale at bazaars, churches, etc. If a person sells a pattern that CANNOT be used for resale then it should state that in bold print somewhere on the front so that a person will not buy it and then later find out that it cannot be used for resale. I know in searching the web, I have seen web sites that say the patterns cannot be used for resale, which is great because it lets the buyer know in advance. What about all the dollhouse kits on sale at auction sites. Buyers buy them, put them together, electrify them and then put them up for resale. I see no difference in doing this than buying a pattern, cutting it out, choosing a type of fabric, making the product and then reselling it. Thanks for listening to my two cents worth.

Marlene, Sacramento, CA

Copyright: I just wanted to correct a misunderstanding of enforcing a copyright. A copyright claim CANNOT be brought in Small Claims Court. Copyright is under the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal courts, and there is no small claims equivalent in the federal system. Therefore, you must have some resources to sue, and it just isn't a great idea to represent yourself unless you're an experienced copyright attorney. Also, to be practical, if you expect to recover $$ damages, the defendant must have resources as well, otherwise there'd be nothing to collect. However, the court can prohibit further infringements, if that's what you're after. The damages for deliberate copyright infringement can be substantial, especially if the copyright is registered. So infringers (or potential infringers) really shouldn't take this lightly. Also, to clarify what you get when you buy a pattern book -- or a Simplicity pattern, or a kit, for that matter -- the creator of the pattern gives you a license, or a right, to use the pattern for your personal use. He or she, however, is the only one who can copy it, make new patterns derived from it, sell items made with the pattern, or publish it. Think about a songwriter. If a singer wants to record one of his or her songs, the singer must pay for the right to do so. Then, the songwriter is paid a royalty for every recording that is sold, and for each instance in which the recording is played commercially, e.g., on the radio, on a movie soundtrack, at a club -- but not when a consumer plays it for his or her own enjoyment. Make sense?

Rosemary in Cleveland

Copyright: I know that many, many people disagree with me... but here is my opinion of people buying either a class or a pattern book and then using it to make items for resale: Once you have 'sold' something, it belongs to the buyer to use as they wish. I don't think it's much different than buying a pattern through Simplicity or any other pattern company. That pattern is now yours to use for your own clothing, or for items you plan to sell. The reason for that is not necessarily 'fair play', but the fact that there is no way to control what happens to any instruction after you've sold it. If however someone 'looks' at your display and then copies the pattern without having paid for it, then I think that's wrong because you have not sold them the idea or the pattern. If it is used, it has been 'stolen', not 'purchased'. Those are my feelings and as I said are not necessarily accepted by others. I sell many pattern books through Lolly's Lilliputians and neither she nor I mind at all if the patterns are put onto dolls and then sold. We do, however, appreciate it if credit is given to Lolly's for the booklet that was used. But we would not appreciate it if the actual PATTERN was sold or even given away. But if the pattern is used by the purchaser (not anyone else), and the finished project sold, we are OK with that. Do any other pattern sellers feel that way? However, if you purchase a pattern and you are clearly made aware of the fact that you are buying it with the promise that you will use it ONLY for your personal use, and then disregard that agreement... that too is wrong in my opinion.


Copyright: I don't know if you have 'small claims' courts in the UK, but in the US you can sue anyone using your copyrighted patterns. What you need is proof of the date you made the pattern and a photo or some other evidence of the person(s)' copying and selling your patterns as their own. The point of using small claims court is that the filing fee is small, lawyers are not allowed, and while there is a limit on the amount of damages you can sue for, the point is not to collect a whole lot of money but to make people aware that you WILL protect your work! Do this two or three times and post a notice that you will sue anyone using your work without permission and I'm pretty sure the copying will cease.


Copyright: It is not my opinion, but just the facts....When a personpurchases a pattern, or receives a pattern, and IT IS copyrighted, the buyer 'does not'; have the authority to use as she or he pleases ! Sure it does become the buyer's personal property...but only that. The substance of the pattern is 'still'; the maker's property. If you take a look at the purchased patterns, let's say Craft Patterns, somewhere there is a Copyright, and some have 'Sold for individual home use only and not for commercial or manufacturing purposes'. This statement is for the purpose of Trademark, and when combined with Copyright, makes a very sound and stable statement. If the pattern manufacturer wanted mass production, they would have taken their pattern through the assembly-line process. Instead, they hold the rights to have the pattern used as a entertainment item. Although, parts of the Copyright law has 'usage' which allows a person to make (several) items of the product for their 'personal use', and not for profit...Bridesmaid dresses in this instance. This area of the law does not allow for any selling of the dresses for profit. The only way around this it to go into an agreement with the pattern maker, that you are to secure her/his design for this purpose. BUT, these agreements are bound by Royalties to the pattern maker; profit sharing. That's a whole 'nother ballgame. If I ever found that someone was handing out my patterns as a come on to sell their product, it wouldn't be a trip to the small claims court, I can assure you. It would be a Cease and Desist Order signed by a Judge.


Making 'crumpled clothes: I'm new to miniatures and wondering about making clothing that is strewn across a bed or hanging on a peg. Do you make the object as it would appear in real life and then 'crumple' it up and glue it in the position you want. Are there instructions for making clothing like a 'nightie' to throw across a bed or a robe. etc.

Diane in Hollywood, Fl

Copyright: Copyright office (US) web site.

Tom Berkner

Copyright: From the US Copyright office under the category 'what is not protected by copyright'

"Titles, names, short phrases, and slogans; familiar symbols or designs; mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or coloring; mere listings of ingredients or contents."

(1) literary works; (2) musical works, including any accompanying words; (3) dramatic works, including any accompanying music; 4) pantomimes and choreographic works, (5) pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works; (6) motion pictures and other audiovisual works; (7) sound recordings; and (8) architectural works.

These categories should be viewed quite broadly: for example, computer programs and most "compilations" are registerable as "literary works;"maps and architectural plans are registerable as "pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works."

Incidentally, I am allowed to copy this information from the copyright office, because the US government is not allowed to own copyrights on its materials.


Copyrighted Images: When I put any pictures on the web I expect to have them copied just because it is done all the time. It isn't legal, but it is done. Speeding isn't legal, but it is done all the time too. Since I put everything up expecting it to be copied, I make the image hard to use if someone does copy it. Even without any copyright symbol, or statement, all images are copyrighted to the maker of the original. Also, IDEAS can't be copyrighted, the words and the text you type to explain the idea is copyrighted to the writer, but, the ideas themselves have no protection from any one using the idea for whatever purpose they want to, even to profit from it, under copyright law. I think ideas and processes have to be patented.

I use a couple of different methods to make my pictures hard to use. If they are too hard, or it takes too long for a "skilled retoucher" to use them, they just forget it. It is a lot easier than trying to prove someone stole my picture and then sueing them. One method is to rotate the image slightly. Or to select an area inside the image and rotate it slightly. Especially if you blur the edges of the chosen area, retouching it is almost impossible. Another way is to use text as a chosen area, and choose an antialias type of setting to use as the text borders. Then adjust the areas inside this  chosen area to be lighter than the rest of the picture. Or change the color slightly. This too, will produce a blur or a funny colored area, almost impossible to fix but will leave the detail of the picture good enough to see if you are using it to sell an item. Think of pictures on the Internet as being made up of dots much bigger than the dots from a printer. Say you have a picture of your dog that is 72 dots wide. On most monitors this picture shows at about an inch. If you print it, most printers need 300 dots to make up an inch so since it only has 72 dots to use it can only make a picture about one-forth the size as what you see on the screen.

Here is where you can go to get a full (legal) working copy of the program someone mentioned: Paint Shop Pro. It will work for only thirty days, then it won't work anymore and you have to buy one but all the work you do with it in those thirty days won't be lost.

Harriet Palatkow

Copyright Law: Regarding the issue of printables, miniature copies, and copyright, I encourage anyone who is confused or uncertain to check the link Tom gave for the U.S. Copyright office. For the text of the U.S. Copyright Act itself, you can go to at Cornell University.

Fair Use is not limited to libraries, archives, etc. Fair use is judged on a case-by-case basis according to the four criteria which I mentioned in my post at

"The four statutory factors are to be explored and weighed together in light of copyright's purpose of promoting science and the arts." SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES, CAMPBELL, aka SKYYWALKER, et al. v. ACUFF ROSE MUSIC, INC.

But this is not the place to go into a full exploration of those factors. For those who find this sort of thing entertaining, you can join us in Lisa's forum. *Grin* as Tom says, the safest course is always to assume you need permission to copy a protected work. I once again encourage everyone to ask for permission if you are in the slightest doubt.


Copyright Law: I happen to do quite a bit of copyright work as a lawyer. Fair use is a very difficult concept. As one judge said in an obscenity case, "I can't define it, but I know it when I see it." I'll try to help, though. In answer to your question about cutting a picture out of a catalog and framing it, the catalog is yours (I assume you acquired the catalog legitimately) and therefore the images in it are yours -- not to reproduce, but you can certainly cut them out and frame them for your dollhouse. If you were to sell the picture, though -- particularly if you got a whole bunch of catalogs and cut out and framed a whole bunch of pictures for sale -- you might be getting into somewhat hotter water. By framing the mini prints, you are creating what the law calls "derivative works," which is one of the rights that is reserved to the copyright holder.

While commercial exploitation of a copyrighted work doesn't determine whether or not the use is fair use, it is often a factor. Someone earlier used the example of copying Microsoft software for "personal" use. In that case, while you're not selling, you are depriving the copyright owner of revenue. Pirating the software is simply like taking it off of the shelf without paying for it. Cutting out the print from the catalog, on the other hand, isn't depriving the owner of revenue because it isn't selling the teeny prints, and you couldn't buy one if you wanted to. Regarding the cereal box, depending on how you use the image, you might be running afoul of trademark law.


Photocopying from Dollhouse Miniatures: This may have been mentioned before, but the best thing to do, when in doubt, is to e-mail Dollhouse Miniatures and ask for permission. I wanted to put the article that they wrote about my dolls on my web site. I wrote and asked for permission. They gave it. Their only request was that I give credit to Nutshell News. I'm not speaking for DM when I say this, but they may charge a minimal fee to reproduce projects for you, not ecause they are trying to prevent people from sharing with their friends, but because they may get lots of requests and need to recoup the cost of making copies. Sharing with friends may be seen as a form of advertising their product. They may get more subscribers that way. What they don't want is to lose subscribers because someone is making available copies of their magazine for no charge. So ask them when you want to reproduce something. They may say "go ahead.quot; Or there may be a reason why they want you to purchase it from them. In either case, you'll know for sure. They were extremely nice when I wrote to them.


Coke Machine: It's back to the copyright laws. Coca Cola insisted that all miniature Coke bottles, signs, trays, etc., be removed from the market several years ago, which is why they disappeared from catalogs. Pepsi evidently did not object, because you can get Pepsi signs, etc. Coca Cola puts out a catalog themselves of their products, and they are costly. Being both a printer and an artist, I am sensitive to the copyright laws, and thank Anne and others for their concern about breaking these laws, which in the end hurt the artist and the business person.

Copyright Issues:

I am supposed to be doing a table for our Show & Sale next month now, I am only doing one item, not several, because it might be misconstrued as copied from some one else? I have made things in the past thinking I had invented it myself and found many people before me had already figured it out.

As long as you figured it out yourself, and didn't copy, you are not violating the copyright act. A good example is two people standing next to each other both take a picture of a sunset. The pictures are basically identical, but they were created independently and each is covered by a copyright. If you took a picture of someone else's picture of a sunset, then you violated their copyright.


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