Re: Rubber Stamp Images

From: Peter Groves <101564.2554[_at_]CompuServe.COM>
Date: 11 Apr 97 09:27:09 EDT

My wife runs a business importing and selling rubber stamps from the US in the UK, and I've previously been asked much the same question. I wrote an article in a UK rubber stamping magazine a little while ago: I could send you a copy if only I can find it on the computer at home.

Please don't rely on the following as legal advice. Also, remember that it relates only to the UK.

No doubt others will answer the question from the point of view of US law, but this might not be very different. In principle, there is an artistic work involved in the stamp design, and provided it's original it will be protected by copyright. Oringinal in the UK means little more than not copied from somewhere else.

Using the stamp results in the artistic work being reproduced, and this is something that the owner of the copyright is entitled to control. Many stamp manufacturers set out express licence terms in their standard terms of trading (I guess I've read more of these than most people!), varying from almost carte blanche to do what you will through restrictions on using the stamp with any sort of mechanical contrivance that aids multiple reproductions to private (non-commercial) use only. So start by looking at the catalogues/order forms, though possibly the supplier hasn't managed to make you party to a standard form contract.

If there are no express terms, there must be an implied licence covering at least the normal activities that people buy stamps for. I guess that such an implied licence would cover hand-stamping for private, non-commercial purposes, with no restrictions about numbers. I would not think that it goes as far as permitting photocopying of the resulting image.

Scanning is a form of rep[roduction in our law, so without express or implied consent from the owner you could be in trouble. If you're putting them on a web page to resell them, that might be viewed differently, since it's in the suplier's interest, so if you buy for resale I think you have a licence to reproduce the images for that purpose.

I'd be very interested to hear other people's comments, particularly on the US law. There must be some literature on the subject in the States: if so I'd be interested in being guided to it.

Peter Groves
Pritchard Englefield
Solicitors
London
<101564.2554[_at_]compuserve.com> Received on Fri Apr 11 1997 - 13:34:27 GMT

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