Copyright-problems when selling props?

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poormansjb

Well-Known Member
There is exactly one correct answer that anyone likely to post on this forum can give you, and that answer is get professional legal help.

And yet, even that isn't necessarily going to help you.

For decades I have been trying to publish a book about 007 memorabilia. Every publisher I've talked with is interested but, in the same breath, they'll say they can't due it because EON would sue them. I finally hired a lawyer (to the tune of nearly $7.5K for roughly an hour long meeting) who said I had every right to publish such book. On that point, the publishers actually wholeheartedly agree. The problem is, EON has more -- and more expensive -- lawyers and while we're certain we're in the right, no one is interested in spending their profit margin -- and then some -- in court just to prove same.

In short, even if an attorney gives you the okay, that and $1 might still only get you coffee at MacDonald's. Damn ... that's probably an infringement right there ...
 

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Aragorn

Member
And yet, even that isn't necessarily going to help you.

For decades I have been trying to publish a book about 007 memorabilia. Every publisher I've talked with is interested but, in the same breath, they'll say they can't due it because EON would sue them. I finally hired a lawyer (to the tune of nearly $7.5K for roughly an hour long meeting) who said I had every right to publish such book. On that point, the publishers actually wholeheartedly agree. The problem is, EON has more -- and more expensive -- lawyers and while we're certain we're in the right, no one is interested in spending their profit margin -- and then some -- in court just to prove same.

In short, even if an attorney gives you the okay, that and $1 might still only get you coffee at MacDonald's. Damn ... that's probably an infringement right there ...

Exactly. Once a person starts attracting the attention of the big boys, he will always be at a disadvantage unless he is a big time heavy hitter himself.

The big companies don't need to win the court case; they only need to ensure they outlast you by smacking you with procedural barriers like interim injunctions which require you to pay more and more money to your own lawyer every step of the way.

There are only two ways around this; you either fly under the radar or in the alternative, try to create some sort of threat of negative publicity that may arise out of you being sued.
 

Melwicker1

Member
In my opinion, copyright laws as they are now are fascist, evil, authoritarian, and draconian. Of course, this is only MY opinion on it.

However, a lot of scholars and experts dislike how strict and murky copyright law is.
Professor Lawrence Lessig of Harvard University is an example of those scholars who basically advocate for the reduction of the restrictive copyright laws and who dislike the harmful and negative impact of copyright law on culture and society.
Many academic scholars basically say that copyright law does more harm than good when it is as restrictive as it is now.

Look up Lawrence Lessig's books on copyright on the internet.


Is it still okay to openly call copyright law evil and draconian? Is it still okay to speak out against copyright law?
 

hydin

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
You can holler it from the rooftop if you like, but this really isn't the forum for that kind of thing. There are lots more places online to discuss reforming various laws and writing your reps to help this idea out.

We mostly just build and paint stuff here :)

Chris
 

Gordon Gekko

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Nice second post. Are you part of the "Occupy Hollywood" movement?

"Wah!! Why can't I freely rip off other peoples work?"

(this coming from a bona-fire C&D recipient on multiple occasions)
 

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epilepticsquirl

Sr Member
I'm picking something up...
avatar12771_1.gif
 

Melwicker1

Member
Nice second post. Are you part of the "Occupy Hollywood" movement?

"Wah!! Why can't I freely rip off other peoples work?"

(this coming from a bona-fire C&D recipient on multiple occasions)


Not actively, no. Passively, maybe.

It's not that ALL copyright laws are evil. They aren't all evil.
And the concept of copyright isn't an evil one either.
It's that there should be room for a morally grey area.
There is such a thing as being too excessively strict or harsh.
Copyright shouldn't last forever, and it shouldn't be too strict.
A person should be allowed to make a replica of a prop for themselves, as long as they keep it for themselves and not sell too many.

Official prop replicas are exceedingly expensive and hard to come by, thus creating demand for a fan based community like this. When any type of prop replica is unavailable officially...that means that a community like this is necessary to satisfy the demand that the fans have to acquire said replicas.
The unavailability of officially licensed prop replicas actually creates the supply and demand for non-official replicas.
By the way, I'm not really wanting to discuss this here and I don't want to start a big debate. I recognize that this isn't the place for a discussion like this. I just want to say my opinion.
 
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Melwicker1

Member
You can holler it from the rooftop if you like, but this really isn't the forum for that kind of thing. There are lots more places online to discuss reforming various laws and writing your reps to help this idea out.

We mostly just build and paint stuff here :)

Chris

I understand.
 

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madmanmoe64

Well-Known Member
Back on topic, never under-estimate what will get you a C&D.
I was 16 and selling a set of stickers to turn any zippo into a replica of Pyro's zippo from X2. Just some stickers!
They were just scalpel cut from sheets of vinyl, not amazing, but okay considering I was only 16. I put up the auction on eBay, within a day someone had bid up to £15 for them (god knows why) and then the next day, the auction was down and I had a very scary e-mail from Zippo inc. (who I guess retained the copyright).

Main point, they can and will come down on you for anything.

On the other hand as long as you stop what you're doing you are unlikely to hear from them again.
Easier to ask forgiveness than permission etc.
 

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Davlin

Well-Known Member
This topic is really interesting, and somewhat sad. Whish some prop-builders like Volpin could come here to add their two cents, it would be a nice feedback of experience.

I had another interesting discussion about copyright on the Shapeway's forum. What I learned from this is that 3D printing is seen even more as a threat than prop-building by hand; The " Super 8 cube " case was a good example, where the studios killed the project right away, before the poor lad had the opportunity to sell any.

And, on another side, making a prop that haven't been made before ( like Doom 3's Soul Cube, for instance ) is no excuse : You're using the brand, you're paying for this privilege, period. Also, making it better than the products that were sold in the shops ( Tron's lightcycles ), is an even worse scenario.

All of this makes sense, of course. I will not criticize the studios to protect their IP, because otherwise it would just be chaos. BUT I can't help but feeling sad that, in the same time, it's just choking creativity up. No hope for you if you're not a big company, able to shelve out the big $$$ to get stuff made.

Last point, designing props ourselves... Well, you can do great stuff, but a prop exist because it is a part of its own universe; Just making cool objects would not be enough to get them sold, I fear. And besides, I'm convinced that even if you design something completely new, there would always be some people to try to gold-digging you and sue you because they'd claim there would be a very distant similarity between their stuff and yours.

What would be great would be some kind of " garage kits " licensing, easy to have access to without an army of lawyers, and making our hobby / small businesses legal. Sweet dream, I guess.

My two cents.
 

Philly

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Can anyone explain the copyright expiration for works published before 1978? Reading up on the US copyright site it seems the life of the author + 70 years is the norm if published after 1st Jan 1978 but I cant figure out pre '78.

After LFL losing the case to Ainsworth, are Starwars props ok to build/sell? Or does that apply to the UK?

Phil
 

Art Andrews

Community Owner
Community Staff
The " Super 8 cube " case was a good example, where the studios killed the project right away, before the poor lad had the opportunity to sell any.

While it is the studio who is ultimately responsible for protecting its IP, my understanding is that the licensee prompted that fiasco... the same licensee who has prompted a number of C&Ds over the past few years.
 

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