Barbie for big girls.

Copyrights and Contracts


1. creative artist’s control of original work: the legal right of creative artists or publishers to control the use and reproduction of their original works . from Bing Dictionary


1. document recording agreement: a document that records a formal or legally binding agreement. from Bing Dictionary

This post started out a couple days ago as a quick entry to announce the opening date for the 2013 Barbie Fan Club(BFC).  Members received an email with a little teaser postcard and the information that the club would be open to existing members on 2/6/13 and more information would be coming around 1/30/13.  Fantastic right?!  Short sweet and to the point.  Then I started wondering if I could share the graphic that Mattel sent with the postcard, it shows a shadowy figure and if anyone in the BFC has been looking at “sneak peeks” lately, they know who the club doll will be.  I, however, under membership agreement with the BFC , cannot share BFC specific photos here until Mattel makes them public.  Given that the graphic was only sent to BFC members, I interpreted that as BFC material and therefore subject to BFC membership rules.  Pretty straightforward really.   

I am a blogger and like most bloggers who are passionate about the subject they report on, I want to get photos and info out on the blog as soon as I can.  Believe me, I want to show photos and talk about the latest and greatest as soon as they hit my computer.  As a member of the WClub and BFC, however,  I hold myself to the contract I signed that stipulates how and when photos can be shared.  As it is with most things, not everyone follows the rules.  {Rant beginning}

There are a number of bloggers, pinners and Facebook participants who, against the rules of their contract,  share photos from the Barbie Fan Club. You can recognize the photos because they have “Barbie Collector” emblazoned across them.   Per Mattel, if this watermark is in place across a photo, it is earmarked for the BFC and therefore should not be shared outside of the BFC. It is clearly watermarked . People pay extra for the privilege of getting and seeing this information first. The BFC rules specifically state that you MAY NOT post or share photos from the BFC or risk losing your membership. Not to mention…it’s just rude, IMHO, to violate BFC rules and publish photos that people have had to pay extra to get. If you want the pictures early, you should pay the price of admission. If you did pay the price of admission, have the courtesy and respect for your fellow members and don’t share them outside of the BFC until the photo has been released to the general public.

It’s not just about the photos themselves, it’s about researching a source that you are using photos from too.  In the course of investigating this piece, I ran across a Facebook page for  Robert Best ( Silkstone designer for Mattel) which ,oddly enough, was using “Barbie Collector” watermarked  BFC exclusive photos that were just released .  People were responding to this person on Facebook as if he/she truly was Robert Best and  reposting the watermarked photos across the internet.  Something was not right.  I decided to check it out with the folks at Mattel and sure enough…this person on Facebook who has all the outward appearances of Robert Best…is NOT Robert Best.  Keep that in mind if you “friended” them.  Also, if you reposted those photos, you just took BFC copyright protected material and posted it under your name.    1)You have just committed copyright infringement and 2)This is grounds to remove you from the Barbie Fan Club.  Yes, they do monitor it and enforce it.

So what is the point of this rant you ask?  Firstly, Is it too much to ask for people to follow the rules of the contracts we sign when we join a doll club?  If the rules stipulate don’t post a photo, don’t post a photo.  Secondly, if there is an official “Barbie Collector” watermark on a photo, DON’T repost it!  Not on Facebook, not on a blog, not on Pinterest, not as an email to non members, not anywhere outside of the BFC. It simply is not “yours” to post.  When Mattel removes the watermark and releases the image to retailers or on their public site, the showcase gives you the option of sharing the photo with approx. 332 various social media sites .  That should be a clue that it’s okay to share the photo.  Oh….and lastly, if you are posing as someone you are not on Facebook, Stop it!  It’s rude, misleading and just plain wrong.   {Rant over}

This is a matter of personal integrity for me and in my opinion  is all about respecting and protecting our fellow collectors and the collecting communities that we all enjoy being a part of.   I enjoy being part of the Barbie Fan Club and wish to respect my fellow members by following the rules of the BFC.  I realize some will think I am being over zealous on the copyright and contract issues.  Okay.  It is indeed one of my hot buttons and I don’t think that is going to change any time soon.  I don’t believe it changes the validity of my point either. 

Do people even care about this issue?  Sound off……


36 responses

  1. I agree … I’m one of those who try very hard to follow the rules. 🙂

    January 31, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    • Yes you are Judy..and we love you for it. 🙂

      January 31, 2013 at 1:13 pm

  2. I agree … I try very hard to follow rules. 🙂

    January 31, 2013 at 1:00 pm

  3. I run across this frequently with my blog/website. People will download my photos, remove my watermark, and then repost them on their site. I don’t think people mean to be rude, disrespectful, and especially not illegal, but…with the internet, I think it has cheapened the value of what is put out there. It seems that most people are of the belief that if it’s on the web or an electronic format, it’s free and they can do what they want with it. As this issue continues to be a problem, I have a feeling there will be more legally binding ways to enforce it, thus curbing the initial behavior.

    January 31, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    • Thank you for the feedback Dave! My hope is that talking about it will help educate. I agree that the internet and the ease of dowloading gives people a sense of entitlement. I am shocked that people are taking your work and actually removing the watermark. I am shocked but not suprised. I join with you in hoping that the future will bring stronger enforcement of copyright law. In the meantime…public shaming can work too 🙂

      January 31, 2013 at 1:17 pm

  4. Elisa of PetraElise

    Excellent blog today — I am a stickler for this kind of stuff, and see it all the time not just with the club releases, but also with reposting of other’s pics from Flickr or where ever. I also have witness the usurping of identity on Facebook. Someone was posing as my brother in law for quite a while (he is not, and has never been on FB) and this person had lots of people thinking he was actually Peter Cetera. It is especially difficult when you see someone representing themselves as a member of your family, and making responses to fans in a way that the real person never would. So everyone out there — be cautious in believing in a “celebrity” interacting on social media. I know some do, but most don’t.

    January 31, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    • Thank you Elisa!! How horrible for your brother in law and entire family. People really shock me sometimes. I completely agree with your caution to everyone. It is so easy to set up as someone you are not on FB. Apparently Mattel and Robert Best have tried for a while to get this yoyo off of FB but so far no luck.

      January 31, 2013 at 1:21 pm

  5. Such an important post, Rebecca. I learned a lot and I appreciate your clarifications. Thank you.

    January 31, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    • Awww! Thanks Hilda. And a big “Thank you” for all your input and support on this one.

      January 31, 2013 at 1:55 pm

  6. Suzette

    A few thoughts…
    1 I agree with you; violating copyright laws is wrong. Simple. End of story.
    2 If it is just a misunderstanding or accidental, I hope public shaming will provide the education necessary to curtail it. For blatant/repeat violators, Mattel and others need to have something with legal “teeth” to go after them.
    3 FB needs to better police fictitious entities. I think it’s in their own best interests. After all, couldn’t someone hold them liable for problems arising from that type of misrepresentation?
    4 Finally… Rebecca, did you leave scorch marks on your keyboard? 🙂

    January 31, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    • Thank you Suzette! Yes, I do believe there were a few scorch marks on that keyboard LOL! 🙂 My main concern before posting this one was that I was using a hammer here. Perhaps I am. It is, as I stated, a subject that I am very passionate about. You are right to point out that many of the people posting these photos have absolutely no idea that they are doing something wrong. Hopefully education will solve that. I also agree that there needs to be more “teeth” in legislation.

      The things going on with FB are just disturbing to me. The fact that it is so easy to get away with impresonating someone else just floors me and I agree…they are one big lawsuit away from changing those rules.

      January 31, 2013 at 2:54 pm

  7. LauraLA

    I’m always surprised by people who do not care about protecting the intellectual property of others expecially when they blog and/or post original photos on the net themselves. I’m not singling out anyone specifically as I don’t remember particulars, suffice it to say that I have seen it done and do not condone the practice.

    But I admit that it’s difficult to keep track of “who, what, where, when” we can can share doll club info. Once or twice I have been overly excited and shared a “check your e-mail” only to find that even that info was deemed inappropriate. Mea culpa, lesson learned, I no longer mention club specific info until long after everyone else has posted it publicly.

    One thing that I am not exactly clear on is if it is legal to commercially publish original photos of copyrighted dolls, toys, etc. For example, if I took pictures of Barbie Doll and made my own calendar that I marketed on Amazon, would Mattel slap me with lawsuits? I kind of think it isn’t legal as I’ve looked at professional Stock Photography companies and they seem to go out of their way to use non-specific people places and things in their pictures.

    My pictures are generally not “borrowed” with one exception. Someone told me a picture of mine had been posted on a Thai Blog and I wasn’t credited. I checked the link and since it was all in Thai (what beautiful lettering they have!) I couldn’t tell if I had been credited or not, or even if they were showing my doll picture with the caption “What NOT to DO when taking doll photos”, LOL.

    I would dislike it if people used my “For Sale” photos of a doll since I think that is a misleading practice. A seller should show a photo of the doll one is selling if simply to show that they have it in hand and the condition it is in.

    January 31, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    • Thank you for the comment Laura and sharing your experience on this issue. It started me thinking that perhaps I should have not shared the picture of My daughter and I waiting for the WClub webinar to begin on Flickr. Good ‘eye opener’ for me. In the course of writing this post, I have learned so much about what is allowable and what is not. You are right, it is this nebulous kind of pool with seemingly no clear boundrys around it. Understandable that many if not all of us fall outside the boundry of what is allowed when it comes to doll club content. We live, we learn…and if we err….hopefully…we own up and endeavor to do better.

      When it comes to the issue of watermarking, I feel it is very straightforward…but that could just be me. I am hopeful that this post will help educate as to where the boundries are when it comes to “Barbie Collector” watermarks. You pose a very good question about Barbie photos. I have wondered the exact same thing. Jennylens has some excellent points in her comment. I have had very informal conversations with a copyright attorney friend of mine on this issue. After these discussions, it was my understanding that the farther away from the original packaging you can get the better. In other words, if you redress the doll in something it did not come in originally it might be okay but I have never run this past Mattel so take everything I say with a grain of salt 🙂 Jennylens is right…it should be vetted through Mattel to be sure.

      It is indeed annoying when someone uses your photos for Ebay sales. Been there done that 🙂 If you are selling something, take your own picture please.

      February 1, 2013 at 7:54 am

  8. As someone who has dealt w/these issues because I KNOW the laws, license and sell my photos all over the world, whose work has been used and watermarks removed and yes, someone posing as me ….

    1) READ THIS:

    2) If you photograph Barbie, perhaps if using only Barbie clothes, furniture, etc and it might be construed as COMPETING w/Mattel, and create a calendar and sell on Amazon, Zazzle/CafePress, YES you run the risk of getting a cease and desist from Mattel.

    Way better to contact Mattel FIRST for their take. Or be prepared they might come after you. Same w/Disney, etc. The bigger companies are the first to come after you.

    Hence generic photos from stock agencies. You CAN license pix of real ppl, celebs or regular folks, for EDITORIAL news, books, mags. Now CDs and DVDs are another thing! [you read the link above, right? That wasn’t an issue of using a celeb, but another photog’s work] .When UMG or Sony or someone come to me, they work out the licensing to use a celeb’s face. Not my problem. I just have to verify I am the copyright owner.

    You can sell fine art prints. LIMITED, and what is a ltd edition? NO ONE KNOWS. Most say 500, but that’s not in concrete. I’ve seen ltd edition Tarot cards of celebs, and all kinds of copyright infringement. 500 decks and no more.

    You CANNOT mass produce calendars, posters, clothes = merch. NOW, is Zazzle mass production? Not really, but will the big companies attorneys give an inch? I dunno. Most ppl DO NOT KNOW.

    You can find products on Zazzle/CafePress/eBay, etc which violate copyrights ALL the time. BUT the sites/stores don’t care, they are making money.

    The person who sells the items is liable … so don’t look for sites to police. They are protected.

    2) Those same big companies won’t think twice of using YOUR work. At least you CAN recover some money. Usually writing to them over a period of time, and you’ll make something.

    [seriously, big companies and others often NEVER think to track down photos or if they try, they don’t try very hard! I’ve been told that: they never thought to obtain rights to my photos! REALLY?]

    3) FB and the Net WILL NEVER POLICE USAGE. It will get worse! NO economic incentive for them. SO get that into your head. This is OUR reality.

    4) FB and webhosts WILL take down pages or a site. Use the DMCA form. I use it quite often. Research that.

    5) The net is GREAT for marketing, free viral marketing. Instead of all this time and energy about something we CANNOT change — ppl do NOT want to be educated nor follow the laws — use it for your advantage.

    6) Create or use shopping cart sites and sell your WATERMARKED work. So what if someone takes it … as long as they don’t make money (and you can stop them, in most cases), so what. Focus on your own thing.

    7) Ppl will not change. NOT your problem they violate their contracts. As I said, MATTEL DOES NOT CARE if released early. It’s viral marketing for them! IF it bothers them, they will:

    a) NOT release photos early
    b) Eject offenders from BFC
    c) Not your problem

    You can argue w/me but: USE your time and energy in a positive manner. Being angry at these ppl only affects you in a negative manner.

    8) IF someone uses your ID or makes money from yr work, THERE ARE LEGAL steps to take. Report to FB, eBay, whatever. I’ve done that, but in most cases, not worth it. Unless it’s REALLY damaging to my pocketbook or rep. OR overseas, cos good luck w/that!

    LET IT GO.

    Gotta go, I’m outta here … but I studied law and THIS issue for over TWENTY yrs. I’ve dealt w/so many attorneys. I’ve been told I’m a very savvy photographer … I hang w/photogs who make a lotta money going after ppl using their pix. Usually the big corporations!

    Much more peaceful and productive to focus on being the best I can and LEADING my example. Some ppl are pigs, that’s all they’ll be …

    MOST PPL ONLINE ARE CLUELESS and don’t care. COLLEGE WILL NOT TEACH THIS. Art, photog and web teachers TELL THEIR STUDENTS TO take stuff from the net.

    THAT is why I stopped teaching college. I was shocked. I said, what if someone stole your work? NO ONE CARES. Til it happens to them … karma.

    IF they rip YOU off, take legal action. Otherwise, move on. Or raise yr blood pressure for what?

    Either “fly w/eagles or scratch w/the chickens.” I rather fly! Defying Gravity! 😉 Big hugs, let’s go make art and have fun instead, ok?

    January 31, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    • Thank you for your reply Jennylens. I was hoping you would give feedback on this issue as I believe you have a wealth of experience in this arena. I was hoping that this post would help give some definitive boundries in specific area of doll collecting. Posting photos from the BFC has been a hazy and much talked about behind the scenes issue between collectors for a while. I decided it was time to do the research and step forward with some clearer guidlines. I accept that there will be some who are not happy with this information or the manner in which I presented it. I wish I could have worded it better or softer 🙂

      You are right though in that I have no control over what people will do and it is better to focus on what I can do. As a collector and a blogger, I can alert people to the issue and for those who were unaware, I can help educate. Thank you for the fantastic link! I learned much in that article and highly recommend others to read it.

      Yes indeed, let’s go make art and have fun instead 🙂

      February 1, 2013 at 1:34 pm

  9. Joel

    I agree 100% Rebecca. When I ran a local doll club, this was brought to my attention and errupted into a huge issue for debate between members. We had a member who was equally as passionate and raised most of the same points as you but was branded a trouble-maker for saying as such! And I was seen as the villian out to strip them all of their ‘freedom’ and ‘rights’ by supporting these (and other) rules and regulations!

    We were given every excuse under the sun as to why it was ok to post BFC images on our forum (mainly that as a small foreign group with a private forum Mattel would never know, and if they did, why would they bother wasting the effort to take action against us?), and every technicality was milked to justify the continued infringement despite many polite warnings before putting my foot down (the main ones being, as you mentioned, taking images from blogs, Facebook etc so they could say it wasn’t taken from BFC).

    I believe this member alerted BFC as to what was taking place and we were lucky to be given 1 warning (which led to the rest of the powers -that-be retalliating by passing a rule that our content could not be shared, hence reporting to BFC would be in breach).

    But I’ve noticed since I left that club they are basically back to their old tricks again like a bunch of rebellious school kids. I believe it’s not just images, but BFC “content” that is not to be shared – which to me means not even posting everywhere else the names of exclusive/sneaked dolls or descriptions. I’ve noticed one particular member continues to write about dolls that have been sneaked as they see it as their duty to be informative and on top of the lastest and greatest news. While I understand the excitement to post such news, it is breach of contract.

    Sorry for the long post, it really infuriates me too!

    January 31, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    • Oh Joel..I had no idea this was going on in your club. So very sorry. I am glad you approve of the post. I know you are very active in your collecting community so I hope you have found a more supportive club. In reading your reply, I realize that I perhaps have been sharing information I should not from the BFC. While I do not share photos, I have shared the name of an upcoming doll. I clearly need to review the rules on “content” as well. Thank you for pointing that out. I will endeavor to do better in the future 🙂

      Thank you for sharing your experience and your views on “content”. You bring up some very valid and compelling points.

      February 1, 2013 at 1:43 pm

  10. PS IF you seek an attorney, be sure IP [Intellectual Property], Entertainment, and Transactional [contracts]. Not a family, general, business, real estate or jack of all trades. But someone in the trenches, dealing w/these issues on a daily basis. Ask about experience and cases before taking or paying for ANY advice.

    The worst advice I ever see online is ALWAYS from clueless attorneys. Just cos someone has a law degree and passed the bar exam does NOT mean they know these really tricky interpretations.

    They MUST know recent case law and legislation. Unfortunately our laws are about 30 yrs outta date. Even judges have no concept of online stores or copyrights. Gotta find a pro if you want help or advice. Sad to say this … it’s scary.

    Forget going after someone overseas … it’s tricky. Now if your family or rep is endangered, then you can deal w/law enforcement. But even that is … difficult.

    I learned to pick my battles and life is sooo much better!

    January 31, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    • Don’t think I will be employing a lawyer on this issue but this information is really good to know If I ever do need one. Thank you!

      February 1, 2013 at 1:44 pm

  11. Robert Constant

    I am a photographer with gallery representation and commercial work. I COMPLETELY respect your stance and the more so for having been the victim of image theft. You are obviously very well respected in the doll collecting world so it is very important and helpful for you to make your honorable position clear to everyone.

    January 31, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    • Thank you so much for the comment Robert! It sounds like you are definitely speaking from a position of someone who would understand and know about this issue. I don’t know about being respected in the community…I hope that I am. I don’t know that I have earned the respect on this issue per se..I came down pretty hard on a fellow blogger for this and I did it publically….and hurt feelings in the process. I am not very proud of the manner in which I did it. It does not change the fact that it needed to be said in my opinion. Just wish I had said it better. I hope that this blog post has given information that is at least helpful.

      February 1, 2013 at 1:51 pm

  12. Shuga-Shug

    Totally agree Rebecca and thanks for the post and reminding people of the rules. Sure sometimes people don’t know and after their first offense they never do it again, but there are some that blatantly disregard the rules and continue to do things like this over and over again. And I’ve been the victim of photo theft myself. To the point that they were printing my photo on buttons and party stuff to sell on ebay & etsy!! So crazy!

    January 31, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    • Thank you Shuga! As one of the doll collecting bloggers that I honestly respect and admire, your support means a great deal. It seems that this poaching of our work gets more outrageous every year. I hope the people on Ebay and Etsy are no longer profiting from you fantastic work.

      February 1, 2013 at 1:55 pm

  13. Kathy

    I am not a professional photographer or artist, but I so enjoy the work of those who are. I have a question about Pinterest. One of my main purposes for using Pinterest is to build a collection of beautiful or unique doll photographs. I have pinned photographs from various blogs, Flickr and Tumblr and I am careful to credit the source. Is this OK?

    p.s. Rebecca, I think this is a topic that does need attention. I know there are people who don’t care about poaching other people’s property, but I think there are more who are just confused.

    February 1, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    • Thank you Kathy! I am so glad you posted this question about Pinterest. Let me start out by saying..I am all for Pinterest…as long as the pictures are credited correctly. If you are pinning directly from the source, typically you will capture the source on the photo. If you are saving the photo first on your computer, you could be getting into a sticky area. If you make sure you are crediting your source with a link underneath the photo, It may still be okay but your best bet is to pin it straight from the source. And…if you are pining from the source, make sure you are not pinning off of the picture but from the flickr, blog/web page or facebook page. What I mean is make sure the source page info is captured. For example, one of my biggest issues with Pinterest right now are that people are clicking on the pictures themselves then pining from there. Unfortunatley, that links people to my wordpress storage room and not my blog. Not really where I want people to go if they like my photos…I would really like them to go to the blog. People need to pin off of the Blog page itself. I think most are doing it because they want the larger picture and they see a smaller picture on the blog. If you pin any picture off of my blog, it will be the larger picture. I just format some pictures smaller to add variety. When you pin the picture you will get the original size. I hope this helps to answer your great question.

      I also agree that the bulk of people who may have been using the “Barbie Collector” watermarked photos have no idea that it is wrong. 🙂

      February 1, 2013 at 2:07 pm

      • Kathy

        Thanks for the response, Rebecca! There are some amazing doll artists and photographers out there and, since I can’t create work like that myself, I am *very* glad that it is OK to pin examples of the work of talented people. For me, it feels like creating my own mini art gallery. 🙂 (Your creations and photos are right at the top of my favorites list!)

        I appreciate the tip about pinning correctly from the source.


        February 1, 2013 at 2:21 pm

  14. Elizabeth Nash

    Hi I normally just read blogs and never leave comments but I do agree with you thar breaching contracts and copyright laws is serious but so many people do not understand that this is stealing. If you are caught doing this at university you are expelled. People really need to respect the intellectual copyright of the people who create these original ideas.

    February 1, 2013 at 5:17 pm

  15. Marion

    I’ll admit I was taken in by ‘Robert Best’ on that Facebook page, mainly because Iam not a member of the BFC, I just thought the pictures had been released to the public, it wasn’t until I read your comment Rebecca on the Facebook page that I realised it was a fraud, what an idiot Iam, but that is what happens in our wonderful world of the World Wide Web. Iam sure the other people who saw those pictures didn’t realise either.

    And I know exactly what Joel is taking about, that is why Iam no longer a member of that club, all the fighting and all the bickering, really turned me off being in this club.

    February 1, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    • Hi Marion. No worries. At least you know now. Many people were taken in by this Facebook page which is why I decided to contact Mattel and confirm it was not him. I am happy my comment on the FB page let some others know it wasn’t truly Mr. Best. As I have stated to other commenters, this post was mostly about educating people about the boundries of using BFC photos. I was a bit forceful about it but I am happy to see that for the most part, people are reacting favorably. I am sorry you had such a bad experience with the doll club. I hope you have found another club that is more supportive with less drama 🙂

      February 1, 2013 at 9:58 pm

  16. YesInDede

    You Go Girl!

    February 4, 2013 at 6:41 am

  17. Matt

    Lordy, what is going on in Doll -land?!? I have to say I agree with everything you stated Rebecca…. what is the point of paying money and joining a club if the benefits given to club members get sent to everyone? It seems like everyone needs to be “the” person to spill the news. Maybe they’re too excited and want to share– but c’mon. Respect the rules of the group or leave the group.

    February 13, 2013 at 1:06 am

    • Yeppers…the exact point of my post. I fully acknowledge that there are people who honestly did not know this and are hopefully better informed now but this post is pointed more towards the people who DO KNOW and continue to post copyrighted material.

      March 8, 2013 at 8:33 am

  18. The fake Robert Best page is removed !

    March 2, 2013 at 12:38 am

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