Copyright and Jewelry Design

Even Suki and Moon have turned their backs on the subject of copyright. They consider it boring!

I hope the following information helps you in some manner. It is important to have at least a basic level of information.

There is a fine line between creative license and design ownership. It is possible however, for similar designs to be created with access to so many of the same materials.

The US Copyright Law automatically protects your work from the moment you have an idea. Whether it is a finished piece of jewelry or a drawing of your design. However, if you plan to teach, make multiple copies and sell your work, the only real protection is to file an application at www.copyright.gov. The fee is approximately $30.00. The more generic the design e.g. - using certain shapes and/or natural elements the harder it is to prove. Currently, copyright protection lasts for the life of the designer plus 50 years.

If you develop a design that is so unique, the best way to protect yourself is to file a design patent. A design patent protects the overall aesthetic appearance of the jewelry design, not how it is made. Most jewelry designs will fall into this category as long as it is a new design and sufficiently different compared to other designs. However, this is a very expensive process. It can cost $1500.00 and you only have one year after your design is shown, to file.

Copyright does not protect  titles or names of a piece, an idea that has not been rendered and techniques.

On another note, many people do not know or understand what they can and can’t do. For people that teach I think that it is helpful to sate your intentions. For my first PMC class, the instructor did not give us a handout. She didn’t want anyone teaching the class. It was a challenge taking notes and working at the same time. As it turned out, someone in the class took good notes and we all got a copy.

People need to understand that they can not copy a magazine article or a tutorial from a website or teach what they have been taught for profit without permission. The article they make is for personal use or can be given as a gift. Many instructors do not have a problem with things being duplicated for profit. It really is a choice by instructors how they feel. Many instructors simply want to be given credit for their work.

I hope that this has been helpful in some way. If you have more specific question, please email me at anytime. molliandco@charter.net. There is a book out "Your Crafts Business - A Legal Guide" if you would like to go further into depth, about the subject.

Happy creating!

Molli Koltun
Modern Metal Jewelry


Lora Hart said...

Great article Molli! And extremely helpful Thanks. I hope this is the first in a series of Suki and Moon recommendations. They are so very wise.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Lora,

I'm sure that Suki and Moon have more up their "sleeves" or paws.

Molli Koltun

Modern Metal Jewelry

Anonymous said...

So I have a question. If a friend has bought a piece of jewelry from a company that say does home parties and askes you to make them another one but in a different color, chain, etc. Are you allowed to do that and charge for it?

heidi jo said...

do you have any information on copyright issues and creating molds from jewelry? even vintage jewelry? this question has come up and i'd like to read up more myself. thanks!

JTY said...

I happened across your blog and as an intellectual property attorney I thought I would pass on some information for your readers. First regarding term of a copyright, the term of copyright for a particular work depends on several factors, including whether it has been published and the date of that first publication. Generally for works created after January 1, 1978, the copyright lasts for the life of the author (by author I only mean the creator of the work, whether literary, visual art, sound, etc.)plus an additional 70 years.
Second regarding filing fees, if an author files electronically on the US Copyright Office website the fee is $35; if the author files a paper form CO by mail the fee is $50 (just increased).
Good luck to you all on your creations.

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