using licensed fabric when sewing for charity.

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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medsecjan
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using licensed fabric when sewing for charity.

Post by medsecjan » Tue Feb 21, 2017 10:00 am

Hi all. I'm new to this forum and needed to source some information. I sew for a charity that makes specialised gowns and pj's for children up to the age of 16. The sewers in the group buy our own fabric to make these items which are given free to hospitals and parents. The only charge that is made to the parent is a £3 postage charge.

on a few occasions our sewers have bought fabric that is licensed and states that it is only to be used for personal use and the administration team have advised that it is therefore not suitable for use due to the licensing laws.

As we don't actually sell these garments can it be presumed that licensed material can be used?

We are a registered charity with a dedicated band of people who gladly spend their money buying suitable fabric to brighten up a child's life when in hospital. A few of us have bought fabric (which isn't cheap) and then found out it was licensed and therefore unusable. Is this the case? Can licensed fabric only be used for 'personal' use or can we use it for these lovely garments?

Any light that can be thrown on this will be a great help.

many thanks

Jan

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Wed Feb 22, 2017 12:28 am

Hi Jan,

One of the rights which owners of copyright are granted is the ability to determine the details of any licensing provisions. Usually these terms will cover such things as the length of time a licence may operate, in what territory and in what specific media, and so on. So to that extent, the owners of the copyright in the characters shown in the fabric are acting perfectly legally if their terms of business include this particular provision, which the fabric makers are duty bound as licensees to pass on to their customers. There are sound economic reasons for this. It quite likely that a fabric maker (Company A) will have been given an exclusive licence to print fabric, say for curtains and bedlinen featuring characters popular with children, while another company (Company B) may have obtained an exclusive licence to make children's clothing. If A starts making clothing, or selling to customers who do so, then Company B's licence is no longer exclusive and they can rightly complain to the licensor (say Disney, for instance).

Unfortunately for you, personal use and non-commercial use are not the same thing. I think it would be argued that making these items in the way you describe would undoubtedly fall outside the personal use category, even though there is no profit motive involved. That said, your charitable status should count for something, if only in terms of goodwill, if you were to approach the licensors directly for permission. There's little point in going to the fabric makers because they won't have the authority to make exceptions. Only the licensor has that power.

If you find you need to contact several different companies for permission, don't be afraid of using shame tactics to get what you want. Say for instance, Disney says yes, you can then contact E1 (the owners of the Peppa Pig franchise) and say you are sure that they would wish to match Disney's generous gesture (or vice versa of course!), and if both companies seem reluctant to help, I'm sure a newspaper like the Daily Mail would be happy to take up your cause and shame them into agreement. And if you have a social media presence, don't forget to drum up public support that way too.

Good luck with your project.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007

medsecjan
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Post by medsecjan » Wed Feb 22, 2017 7:01 pm

Hi Andy

Many thanks for your very comprehensive reply. I understand a bit more than I did previously. I'll pass on this info to our Admin team.

Jan

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