Angel Policies, part 2 – Knock-offs and such

Part two of the Angel Policies topic tries to answer this question:

I recently bought some cheap stamps and metal dies from the internet that are rip-offs, counterfeits, knock-offs, or pirates of name brand craft company!  Does the angel policy still apply to the stamps and metal dies?

This question really opens up a can of worms.  First of all, there is a difference between all those terms and we need to know the difference.  A counterfeit is an item made to look exactly like the original, all the way down to the label.  A rip-off or knock-off are imitations of the real thing.  And a pirate is an illegal reproduction of an item without permission from the original company.  A pirate usually covers music, books, and movies, but any copyrighted work as well.

To the best of my knowledge, all the stamps and metals dies from China I’ve seen online (like from Ali Express or eBay) are not counterfeits because they do not sell the stamps as if they are originals.  They are mostly knock-offs because they have been modified to be smaller or larger.

I also believe that some stamps or dies on Ali Express are possibly pirated because I think they are exactly the same as the original, but without a company’s logo.  In my research, I have learned of something called supply companies.  These are companies that generally supply the discount stores and they generally do not design or make any product.  What they do is scour for new toys and crafts from China, India, Blangaldesh, etc., buy it up, (re)package it with their supply company’s craft/toy brand, and supply it to discount stores to be sold.  So, to go back on pirating, if a supply company has bought up a line of stamps or dies, but someone is still producing it and selling it outside of of the supply company’s contract with them, then it is pirated, even though the supply company is not the original company/maker.  On a side note, buying stamps and dies from discount stores or from a discount line in a big store will almost always be cheaper than buying it from Ali Express or eBay.  The reason is because these supply companies buy in bulk (they buy up everything), so it is very low priced for them to buy, then they set a low profit margin to sell low.

So, let’s go back to the topic of Angel Policies!  Almost all stamps and dies from a supply company’s brand has no angel policy on it because the supply company did not design anything.  They just found something, bought it up, and now supplying and selling it back out.  The person(s) that designed these such products also do not hold any copyright or patent to it because copyright and patent laws in places like China are rather bad.

There are also no angel policies on knock-offs either… but you are walking on a very thin line.  The craft companies that designs a stamp or die set hold copyright over the design.  If someone takes their design completely, but decides to resize it to be smaller or larger than the original, it’s not exactly the same image anymore, therefore, the angel policy on the original design does not apply anymore!  But this kind of stuff is so fuzzy, and why there are often so many copyright lawsuits!

My personal suggestion is that if you are wanting to create and sell handmade items using stamps and dies, best go with name brands or “no-name” brands (stuff sold by supply companies), and not with knock-offs.

So that’s pretty much all there is to say about Angel Policies.  I do not condemn the purchasing of craft items from places like China, be it knock-offs or not, particularly for personal use.  But in light of angel policies, always try to be on the right side of the law and follow each company’s policy as a sign of respect to the company and its artists/designers.

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