Having Your Cake And Eating It

Ron Nagasawa
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Wednesday - June 04, 2008
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Just like every year lately, there seem to be lots of friends and relatives graduating from school. College, high school, middle school and even kindergarten have graduations these days, making our attendance to graduation ceremonies and parties exponentially higher.

Where relatives are concerned, the whole family is involved in the planning and executing of graduation parties. In Hawaii, these can amount to the equivalent of a wedding reception - both of which can cost parents some serious coin.

My wife’s niece graduates this year from high school, and I thought one of the ways I could help out was by picking up some of the costs for her graduation party. One specifically was to order and pay for her graduation cake. Her parents wanted one of those huge sheet cakes that has her photo on it.

We decided to use her professionally taken graduation announcement photo for the cake. Of course, I needed to personally go to the store to place the order to make sure everything was right and the cake would be ready on time.

The woman who helped me with the cake order was really nice - up until I produced the photo that was to go on the cake. “I’ll need a written release from the photographer before we can put that on,” she said. Taken aback, I asked, “Why? It’s just a cake.”

She mumbled something about copyright protection. Being in the newspaper business, I know all about copyright protection and photography. I argued, “So you mean that I have to leave and obtain a written release from some photographer just to put this picture on a cake?” “Yep,” she replied.

I fired back, “What, are you guys worried that I’m going to order two full-sized sheet cakes, four half-sheets and 20 wallet-sized cupcakes?” She just looked at me and I realized she was only doing her job. I thanked her and said I would return with the release. Man, the next thing you know, the FBI is going to be enforcing cake copyright infringement.

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