Decoupage sounds like a fairly innocent method used in making crafts, but even there online sellers can get in trouble, as revealed in the Dear Rich Blog, which presents interesting legal questions from its readers.
A recent letter to "Dear Rich," highlights the pitfall into which artisan sellers may fall. The seller asks Rich if it's okay to buy sheet music online, print it out, and incorporate it into customizable gifts through decoupage (pasting paper onto an object in a collage).
As with many legal and intellectual property issues, the answer isn't simple. Rich points to several court decisions that show cases can go either way:
"For example, a company purchased notecards and affixed them to tiles and a court ruled that was permissible under the first sale doctrine (a legal principle that guarantees you the right "to sell or otherwise dispose" of copyrighted items)."
But he also said:
"On the other hand ... A federal court in California ruled that ripping out images from a book by Patrick Nagel and reselling them on tiles was not permitted."
Rich also provided a list
of five things such sellers should consider when contemplating these issues.
Etsy, best known as a marketplace featuring artisan and handmade goods, offers a lot of information to sellers that can be useful no matter where you sell. Here's one example
offering advice on intellectual property issues for online sellers from 2014.
Have you encountered legal challenges in your ecommerce business? Does the first right doctrine give you the right to upcycle without fear?