Hang ‘Em High


There’s a new breed in town. I call them the Cake Rustlers. They are a smarmy breed of folks. You will recognize them as the folks who attend your demo then do a tutorial on your exact demonstration. They are the ones who scrub off your logo and replace it with theirs on cake photos. They buy your video, then do a knocked down version as a free or paid tutorial.

In the old days, there were similar folks in the Wild West. They were cattle rustlers and the good people of that era considered cattle theft a hanging offense. Remember, they had to go grab someone’s cows, alter the brand to be theirs and then sold the other person’s property to line their own pockets.

I feel much the same about some of the activity going on right now. A photo of your cake, with your watermarked logo is a sign to the world that it belongs to YOU. For some reason, people don’t think taking a photo is stealing, but it IS. I actually fired an employee for setting up a competing web site using photos that belonged to me. Because that was blatant theft, she was not eligible for unemployment benefits.

I’ve had a friend discover that her custom designed logo was being used by another company. I’ve had a friend do a video and someone copied it almost verbatim to create her own for sale. I had a friend get video taped as she gave a demo and the person then made their own you tube video using her words and process. I’ve seen countless friends have their photos stolen and passed of as the thief’s work.

Until the law really catches up with the internet revolution, we have to be vigilantes. I don’t like doing it, but we honestly have no other recourse right now. I see friends share the names of the crooks and then a “posse” of deputized citizens take action. It truly seems to be effective and about the only thing that works!

There will always be thieves. There will always be trusting souls who share their work with the world. Maybe someday the law will help us fight these cake rustlers. In the meantime, keep your eyes and ears open. And DO NOT support these thieves financially…no matter how good their prices are. A knock off will always be just a cheap imitation. You are all officially deputized. Let’s clean up this industry!

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21 thoughts on “Hang ‘Em High

  1. I have a ? I have an employee that is leaving and she has pics posted on her profile of cakes that she helped to make at the shop. I am no longer a FB friend since she has added these photos. Are these not photos that belong to the shop and not hers to post on her FB page?

    • If they were taken with your camera, they belong to you. It becomes harder if she took them on her own device during work hours of your company’s work product. Check the laws in your area, but you might be entitled to an injunction to stop her.

      • She took them with her camera expressly for the purpose of posting them on our facebook page. She was being paid well and offered to do this for us.

      • This is similar to a fight over a photo at the OKC bombing. I’m sorry that I don’t remember the full outcome, but my gut says you own the pics. Check with your lawyer.

  2. The problem, however, is that the newbies and the uninitiated don’t always know the true source of a video, utube, or class. If they have not been around to know the originator of an idea, technique, or design. This is not new.. been happening since the early 70’s, it has just gotten worse. Too bad, there is no intiegrity in an industry that should make people feel good, not abused

  3. I am new at cake decorating, so how can I tell if its fake on you tube or not. I don’t know who designs belong to who. I love watching you tube to learn new techniques. How do I get the info to tell the difference.

    • There are a lot of good cake groups on Facebook and they usually catch the cheaters. I want to think on this a bit more and help find a solution so newbies don’t get duped. I’ve also seen a lot of tutorials that are wrong. I worry that folks follow them.

  4. Sweepstakes of NC is ripping off other peoples’ cakes then giving prices and when people compliment her she takes credit. One of the people who actually did one of those cakes busted her facebook page, yet she
    still keeps doing it. What a disservice to this craft. It’s obvious her cakes from other’s….her cakes have bumpy fondant, horrible scroll work, etc.see her work, http://www.facebook.com/cakes2luv

  5. I have been in a situation where I was accused of stealing my own work! I made a christening cake, I took a photo, I put a watermark on it, I shared it online…….. Then a year or so down the track the abusive emails and comments came pouring in 😦
    Someone had stolen my photo, removed my watermark, removed the name written on the cake (I guess to make it look different to mine) and was claiming that they made the cake in the photo.
    A “posse” of fellow cakies took it upon them selves to bring to my attention that I was a low life piece of scum (among other things) and I should delete my photo immediately. After becoming very upset I informed them that it was my own cake which they would not believe. I was called a thief an a lier. In the end I posted 12 other photos of the cake being made to prove they were wrong. Not one apology came my way.
    After that I withdrew from most cake forums and pages so while I understand the frustration of having your work stolen (because I have been there!) I think everyone should make sure they have ALL the facts before they charge on out and crush someone with a barrage of insults and accusations…… Just something to keep in mind!!
    I think it’s good to look out for each other but I also think there is a right and a wrong way to go about things……. Bullying …… Even in the name of justice is still bullying so as long as the line doesn’t get crossed from pointing out an injustice to name calling and nasty ness I’m all for it!

  6. Hi Ruth! Thank you for this post it was really great. I have a question for you though. This may be naive, but what about people who share things like YouTube videos of demos but either in a video intro or in the description of the video give total credit to the original artist/creator? Does it then become an issue of affecting their livelihood or is it okay because credit is appropriately given? Additionally, I’m an amateur cake artist and love being inspired by artists such as yourself. When I create cakes I use or am inspired by the designs of others, but it never looks exactly like my inspiration, and I’m never saying that I came up with an idea all by myself (nor am I trying to sell to others)- are you suggesting that for those doing this as a hobby should always reference the inspiration in their Facebook or other posts or at a cake show? Sort of like footnotes in books? I know I’m not trying to take advantage of anyone else, but I don’t want to upset any of the people that inspire me either!

  7. Absolutely!!! Theft is theft is theft. I agree with Sandra that we have to have evidence and bullying people or being abusive is never the right course of action. We, for better or worse, live in an age where obtaining information is incredibly easy. And, much of that information is not filtered in any way. Anyone can post anything and call it “expert.” Wait until you see my video on the “real” Santa Claus. I saw him…I swear! In any case, it is up to s to police ourselves if we want our profession and those in it to maintain integrity. It doesn’t matter if the only cake someone has posted is the one from the first night of a Wilton class. It is that person’s cake, not someone else’s. I don’t care if someone has been decorating 1 day, 1 month, or 50 years – people deserve to have correct information.

  8. I completely agree that it’s theft and it needs to stop, but I’d like to see the more well known names in the industry set a better standard by not stealing themselves when they use copyrighted logos and characters without the permission of the owner. I’m one of the very few bakers who refuses to do these cakes without permission and it’s infuriating when the same people complaining about their photos being stolen are stealing themselves (not accusing anyone here, just a general statement).

    • I agree. I cringe when I see Disney characters and other famous characters done by folks who should know better.

      At my bakery, we offered to model a figure if their child dressed in a costume from the movie. Like their son dressed as Woody from Toy Story. It was adorable and kept us from breaking laws.

      For some reason, many decorators think it is wrong to steal from them, but just fine to steal from the big companies. Eventually, it catches up to them.

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