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Copying jewelry

in the big scheme of things, whose gonna know? unless your mass producing a piece exactly I doubt there will be trouble. btw, when there are trends in whatever ring, pendant etc. I believe most artists are influenced a bit. thats how a trend starts?
good luck,

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Just joking but show me an ethical lawyer!!


Thanks so much to all for your comments. I am not going to make the piece that was in question. There are myriad other pieces I can make that aren’t copies.

Some of you on this thread are of same mind as myself. Copying is how we learn, how we are taught and the outcome is our interpretation of it all. Design is love!!
Others have a more severe response like “no copying” period. This response derives from a different part of the psyche I dont understand.
Be giving, make money or not. Its a big world out there, plenty of room for us all, to learn, grow and create. AE

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Yes to what your saying northeastnelly!

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Hi. I’m a new member and read your comment. I was curious about your statement regarding nature can’t be copyrighted. I agree, in my personal (not professional) opinion. I don’t see how “nature” can be copyrighted. Did your instructor claim to have a copyright on “nature” or was the copyright based on the style in which she “used nature” to produce her works? Sometimes copyrights are all about process, procedures, and end results and not on each individual item used. I know copyrights can get very tricky. Anyway, I was just wondering. Thanks! Have a great day! :slightly_smiling_face:

Don’t reproduce someone else’s jewelry. Period. Those of you who are pushing the narrative that copying jewelry is acceptable outside of an educational scenario are mistaken. It is not morally or legally acceptable to infringe upon someone else’s art. The fate of your infringement will lie solely upon a judge and jury if your case goes to court. What you think might be slam dunk evidence may work against you in a court of law. So copying “just a little” can get you into some very hot water. If you knowingly copy something, then sell it… depending on how much of it you sell and the period of time you sell it in, you can face hefty fines and jail time. Copyrights are no joke!

Copyright’s are in place for a reason and are valid the moment a piece is created. Furthermore, if a piece or a collection is registered with the copyright office… the date of creation is legally documented from a government agency. You would have to prove in court that you created the art before the copyright registration holder. Even derivatives of a persons art are protected within their copyright registration. The registered creator is the ONLY person who can legally duplicate their own art. I would encourage each of you to copyright every piece of art you create, individually and before it is published. It’s expensive, but worth every penny if someone infringes upon your work.

It is possible to be influenced and inspired by other people’s work and not copy it… it’s your job to figure that out as an artist. And if you can’t figure that out… come up with an idea that someone else hasn’t. The reason people copy is because it’s easier than putting work and effort into a new idea.
Bottom line…If you think no one will find out about your copying and if you think YOU won’t get copied think again. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Protect yourselves.

In one word on copying someone elses work. DON’T!
If you think that you can get away with it, you are so damned mistaken.
Lawyers are in business to prevent this from happening.
If you get caught; “visiting hours in prison are limited to maybe one hour a week”. If you do get caught, don’t come crying to us.
One fellow who told me that he was actually copying someones jewellery designs. “I acted very impressed and asked for his business card”!
When I got back home from our trip, I called that we’ll known jewellery designers’ office. His secretary was more than happy to hear that news.

Don’t know if he was in business after the designers’ lawyers visited him. (I’d hate to be him).
In closing, my very true story is a lesson to everyone. DON’T COPY.
“Gerry, on my iPhone”

I think that copyrighting your original jewelry designs is a great idea and I would never knowingly copy someone’s designs. However, as far as copyright protecting you, if you are copied by someone out of this country and you are a small operation, odds are you can’t sue them in this country and actually collect. Also, having sued someone with more resources than yourself, you possibly cannot afford to carry your suit to completion. Another issue is that you can register your design, but if you are involved in a suit, don’t you have to prove that the design is original? Wouldn’t that involve some kind of copyright search? Is that costly or time consuming? In the end, if you are an individual craftsperson or a small shop, I would think that continued innovation was your best defense. By the time they have copied your work, you have produced something else original.

I have an inventor friend who trademarks his inventions (cutting lap alloys) rather than patent them. This keeps his manufacturing details secret rather than detailed in a patent. Also he’s made a career out of complicated manufacturing which overseas imitators cannot cost effectively duplicate. My guess is that if you do wonderful granulation or keem bo or some such, that overseas factories can’t exactly duplicate it. Would I be wrong it I said that there probably aren’t a lot of platinum knock-offs of Jim Grahl’s designs? -royjohn

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I was reading this Medium article this morning on patents, trademarks and copyright law, which mostly applies to writing, but is interesting for jewelry for some of the points it raises about fair use, etc. Patents! Copyrights! and Trademarks! Oh my! | by Karen Remick | Inventing | Oct, 2021 | Medium. The history of jewelry making is long, perhaps 10,000 years long, and copying as well as outright forgeries have been rampant throughout that time. There are many, many out-of-copyright books and images of jewelry designs both ancient and more modern that you can copy freely. Look through the Internet Archive and various museum collections for inspiration for your pieces and you won’t run afoul either ethically or legally. Every beginner learns by copying the works of those who have mastered their craft, either through books or classes. Everyone. Go forth and make jewelry and worry about the business of selling after you have mastered your craft.

Some of you based in the USA may find this article interesting: Protecting The Intellectual Property Of Jewelry Designs - Intellectual Property - United States. It’s very very hard to register a copyright for a jewelry design in the US, especially as a small designer. I’ve taken several workshops about copyright and trademarking, and my takeaway is that really the only thing you can win on usually is your photographs of the jewelry. (But I’m no legal expert of course.)

On a side note, my experience with this is that usually the copying we all worry about as designers/small businesses is done by people ripping us off and selling our design in a mass production model. Usually these factories are overseas and (for example) US copyright law doesn’t help you with a Chinese company. But I have successfully had my photos removed from sites like AliExpress. They can still rip off the design, but at least they have to photograph their own garbage version that they make out of tin, or whatever material can be made that cheaply!

First let me say that in my opinion, copying another’s design by a student is a very good way to enhance the skill of the student. It can offer challenges that a student can’t develop on their own. Sometimes it’s harder to make an accurate copy by hand than doing one’s own thing. But that’s where it should stop, and in noway should it be used for monetary gain.

Copying for commercial purposes shouldn’t be done. But in the jewelry business it’s done all the time. Our problem was not so much with large manufactures, but with local jewelers and insurance companies. To combat it with insurance companies, we added a statement on the “Estimate to Replace for Insurance” form we supplied when we sold a piece of original jewelry; That the piece was stamped with our trademark and that it may not be reproduced unless authorized by the original designer. This did help in a few cases when the jewelry had to be replaced.

I would like to tell a story of one customers who had a retail store around the corner from ours. She had fallen in love with one of my designs but thought I was asking way to much for it, so she had her “jeweler” try and copy it. He would stand outside and look at our window trying to figure out how I made the ring. When we pulled the ring from the window case and brought it inside the store, he actually came in and asked to see the ring. This went on for a couple months. What makes the design different was that it had very simple clean lines that accented the five diamonds, rather than carved from wax which was the custom, it was hand fabricated with wire that makes it appear that the diamonds are floating. After a few months went by, she came back into the my store and had me make the ring for the price I was asking. It always feels kinda good win you win one.

Being a custom jeweler for over 40 year, we had many occasions where people would bring us a picture of some piece and ask us to copy it. Our response was always no we wouldn’t copy it, but we would be glad to make something with a similar feel, but make it original for them. Most customers were fine with that, or they went elsewhere.


Some of my work

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