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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Birthday Cake Police

If you are a rock want to be on the cover of Rolling Stone.

If you want to be President.......Newsweek.

If you are a Baker.......Modern Baking is the top Baking magazine.

Recently I read an article in "Modern B" that discouraged bakeries from creating birthday cakes that had famous cartoon characters. They said that these trademarked (or copyrighted) images could take a bakery down.

I've heard about major corporations busting it to the little guy, but that's mostly urban legend...right?

So Klecko's insomnia kicks in, he's up at 3:30 in the morning and has nothing better to do than search the world wide web. What you are about to read is a blog that I stumbled into.....

Blog starting in 3-2-1

"Copyright cops crack down on cooks over cakes

By Xeni Jardin at 10:17 am Thursday, Jun 16

Clay Shirky says:

Here's the sign I saw yesterday morning when getting the daily bread at College Bakery, our beloved local purveyor of pre-Atkins goodies.

Now the decor and ambiance of College Bakery are echt Old Brooklyn, so it's an unlikely front in the copyfight, but the staff said they had to bust out the magic markers because they'd been roped in as the front line of defense against non-licit images of Dora the Explorer® and Thomas the Tank Engine®. I was struck enough by the sign to Flickr it immediately, and it's stuck with me since then, for several reasons.

First of all, disappointing children is a lousy tactic for a media company. If a child loves Nemo so much she wants a clownfish birthday cake, it's hard to see the upside in preventing her from advertising that affection to her friends. Second, and more worryingly, this is the very sort of chilling effect that has always been recognized as a significant risk in First Amendment protections. How cool would it be to do a drawing with your kid and have it show up as a cake the next day? Well forget it.

What College Bakery is saying with that sign is "The risk of being sued is so high that we'll give up on helping paying customers create their own cakes." This is Trusted Computing for frosting.

Creativity, in this world, is for Trained Professionals, whose work is owned by BigCos. Loss of amateur creativity is a small price to pay for protecting commercial IP holders. Finally, and perhaps most revealingly, the industries fighting for encumbrance of digital IP have often raised the 'restoring analog balance' argument, which is, roughly: "The natural difficulty and generational loss in analog copying made cassette tapes and VCRs bearable. We just want to bring those checks to digital copying." And yet this case -- printing a digital image on a cake -- has exactly those checks, since the image is designed to be eaten by children within hours of its creation. No risk of unlimited copies. No longevity issues. No easy transition to other media. And what happens? The same grab for total control, and the same weak regard for side-effects on non-commercial creativity. The 'analog balance' argument is, of course, a lie. Those industries have fought for total control wherever they have been able to, questioning the very existence of core public rights such as fair use or limited copyright terms, and the magic-markered sign at College Bakery is yet another example.

As Cory said "There are days when the gormlessness of the other side of the copyfight generates a great deal of unintentional hilarity." Now this is more sad than hilarious, but when the control grab extends to the enlisting of neighborhood bakeries in disappointing children for the making of one-off and short-lived copies, the gormlessness quotient is running high."

Blog post ends...............................

I totally get what Xeni Jardin is throwing out there. I really enjoyed this point of view, but then I started to think about how different the world works these days.

If Klecko sells a Scooby Doo cake, and the family who purchased it is pleased with this purchase, you know there is a strong likelihood that they are going to snap a couple of photogs....and before you know....those pictures will be blasted out on Facebook and Twitter.

In addition to the 17 obligatory "Likes" that will be pressed, I can almost guarantee that some woman named Wendy Lynn from Charlotte North Carlina will ask the incriminating question.....

" that cake, where did you buy it?"

And w/o thinking of the consequence to the baker....the purchaser of this said cake will want to pay homage to their neighborhood bakery, and will end up telling Wendy Lynn the name - address and phone number of your plain sight for the whole world to see. For some 8 dollar an hour intern at Disney to see.

So when people say that this image is edible, and therefore short lived, I get their point, but through today's social media....those images will live off in infamy.

I'm guessing that might chap Hanna Barbera's a**, just a bit.

I won't bore you kids with whose side I'm on, but all I'm's just one more plight that the today's commercial bakers have to consider.....

That's all I got for now, I'm off to take the bread truck in for bodywork.....I'll catch ya soon.


  1. This is an issue dear to my heart. Disney became infamous 25 years ago when it began policing its trademarks, sending scary letters and occasional lawsuits to people. I think of all the popsicle vendors in Mexico getting scary letters from Dewey Cheatham & Howe. Yes, it is lawyer (not $8 per hour intern) driven. But the sad truth is that the law as it stands (written by guess whos) says that trademarks that are not protected vigilantly cease to have effect. In other words, enforce them or lose them. It's very sad, and Big Brothery, and a good reminder that people do not matter.

    1. Well Said.... (I Love the term Big Brothery)