The scenes created with these items will photographed and used as illustrations. No logos will be visible.The scrapbook pages will generally serve as a background for the scenes. It is sometimes quite visible. I create the majority of the pieces myself, but I would like to use some doll house furniture and other craft store supplies as well. Is it feasible to contact these companies for permission to use their products in such a way?
Depending on how these items look when finished, this sounds like it will be okay. However, to be sure, you should run the finished products by an IP attorney (you can use one located anywhere in the US) to ensure that what you are doing will not infringe the rights of others. Good luck!
Yes, you probably can. Some items (such as fabrics) may have copyright and/or design patents protecting them - they should be marked to say so if they are. You should check the materials and the packaging carefully for any markings indicating protection, and for restrictions on their use.
You should also be sure that you own the photographs you use - either take them yourself, or have a written agreement with the photographer that gives you ownership and control of the images.
If "scrap book paper" and "doll house pieces" are works of authorship and hence copyright properties, then the use in photographs would likely be derivative works and infringe. Sorting out the existence or non-existence of protection of such items should be done by Intellectual Property counsel.
My comments have been made without discussion. An attorney client relationship has not been established. There may be conflicts which prohibit my providing you with specific legal guidance. Any contact with you beyond these few general words will start with a disclosure of opposing parties so that a conflict check can be made. You should discuss with an attorney.
In all likelihood, this would be permissible, but of course there is no way for any of us to know for certain without a full understanding of what you are doing. Anytime you seek to use another's IP in your own commercial capacity you always run some risk. How much are you using? Will those CR holders react negatively and make a problem even if they don't have a really strong legal argument? How visible will your work be, or in other words how much exposure do you have?
I suggest that you consult with a lawyer in private and discuss your objectives in more detail before making the investment. You can start by calling around to several for a free phone consultation, get some insights then pick the best fit to work with.
DISCLAIMER: this is not intended to be specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. No attorney-client relationship is formed with the law firm of Natoli-Lapin, LLC on the basis of this posting.
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