Is it legal to sell built free downloaded paper models?

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C

cgutzmer

StevO - the poll was a community based discussion. Bspline is a copyright lawyer giving his personal opinions about what he understands (he cant give legal advice here) about copyright laws.

HK - its a moral choice for you to make ;) to keep a model within a reasonable price you would have to charge about 10 cents per hour :p well depending on the model I suppose.
 

Runkle

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Aug 10, 2006
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You can disagree as much as you like Greg. It doesn't change the way the Law works.

Indeed you may only be seeking compensation for the work you have done. Legally you are entitled to do so. HOWEVER! You are using a model to do that work that was designed by someone else and earning money from it. You do not have a legal right to do that.

Look at it this way.... Lets say you were to manufacture a set of Star Wars Toys, from a kit that was available and sell them, and then claim that you were only seeking compensation for the work you did manufacturing them. That simply wouldn't stand up in Court, because you would still be in breach of the Copyright and patents and rights in the original design.

The Copyrights in the paper models allow for personal use only. They do not allow for commercial use, which is effectively exactly what you would be doing by selling them. Unless the designer or copyright owner specifically grants you legal release permission to do so.

As I said, A Pirate could sell a whole disk of commercial and free models claiming that he was only selling the work he had done in compiling them onto the disk. Do you think that he is entitled to payment for that work?? Do you think a Court would accept that as reasonable??

OK look at it another way.... You buy several CD's... You rip different tracks from them, and assemble them into a Compilation. Do you think it would be legal to charge for your time and materials in doing that? Of course not... and the same applies here.

But as I said, nobody is going to chase this down, because the cost of doing so would be too high with little prospect of recovering any money from it. Which brings it back to a question of your own personal moral choice.

Best Wishes,
Bspline (Copyright and Patents Lawyer)
Well it's not that fine of a line at all. Matter a fact, once built , it has been altered from it's original format that makes it legal to sell as the copyright is attached to the original design (flat format).

Best wishes,
Mason Runkle (graphic designer for over 20 years)
 

Nothing

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Sep 13, 2006
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i think we can agree that laws are insanely complicated which is why we have lawyers to make sense of them(somewhat). it really sounds like it comes down to a personal moral decision.

Bspline i have learned quite a bit from this discussion, and thank you for insight on the matter.
 

Wily

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Sep 7, 2005
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Hmmm. Have to weigh in here with a thoroughly middling answer - it depends.

I deal with copyright all the time - I have an advertising agency. We create copyrighted material and deal with copyright ownership and use on a daily basis.

Selling of copyrighted work without consent is wrong, but there's legal precedent in favor of language specifically stating use.

The Copyright Act of 1976 is germane here as it allows for fair use - model kits are sold under a "first sale doctrine." Transfer of copyright doesn't even have to be written - it can be assumed, based on the nature of the work, without any legal contract.

It is legal for a book owner to buy a book, then resell it, same with music. Same with art.

The Star Wars analogy isn't quite right as the Star Wars toy is a proprietary design and ownership is easy to prove. But who owns the copyright to a Panzer Tiger? A Lockheed Constellation? (btw- I know that certain American manufacturers are trying to assert their ownership of old names such as P-51 "Mustang".)

Though I am not a legal advisor and make no claim to legal authority, and any and all semblances to sanity, cognizance or rationality is hereby deemed suspect, I would bet the issue of reselling a built kit would not make it to court.

You can bet I'll bring this up with our IP Attorney on Monday - what a fascinating topic!
 

Art Decko

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Oct 26, 2006
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Well it's not that fine of a line at all. Matter a fact, once built , it has been altered from it's original format that makes it legal to sell as the copyright is attached to the original design (flat format).
Actually, I'm not sure that's correct.

In the US, copyright law also covers exclusive rights over derivative works, not just the original format (note: for anyone unfamiliar, "derivative work" = a work based on, or adapted from some original work).

Examples: I cannot legally make a film based on your novel without your permission. You cannot legally publish a book of photos of my paintings without my permission.

This also means it is technically illegal to sell (or even give away) paper models based on movies or pc games without the copyright owner's permission, although as Bspline explained, it may be unlikely the copyright holder would pursue legal action.

What I'd like to have cleared up is whether or not an assembled model is a "derivative work", or if it can be legally sold under the "first sale" doctrine that Wily mentioned. After all, the model was designed and sold with the intention of being assembled, so I'm not clear if an assembled model is a different work from the unassembled original.

EDIT: Oops, I see that Bspline already gave his/her opinion on this:

Bspline said:
(...) provided that it is sold as it was originally sold to you (unbuilt), otherwise it becomes a derived work, and technically breaches copyright in the design.
 

Wily

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Sep 7, 2005
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Besides this...

Any card model designer who would sue someone who, having legally purchased the kit, and resold the completed model would be alienating a potential distribution source and secondary market. If I were a designer, I'd be happy to have someone out there promoting the new aspect of the hobby...but that's just me.

Of course, if the builder did a totally awful hack-job (like me) and then paraded it as a representative sample of quality...

Then, I think we'd be talking about Defamation, which is a different topic altogether.

I can see it now - Halinski sending me a Cease and Desist because I suck as a builder.
 

Wily

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Sep 7, 2005
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Well it's not that fine of a line at all. Matter a fact, once built , it has been altered from it's original format that makes it legal to sell as the copyright is attached to the original design (flat format).

Best wishes,
Mason Runkle (graphic designer for over 20 years)
Mason - you're right in so much as the verbiage I think is "...sufficiently altered..." We have a client that came in with packaging design made by a competing firm that had used clipart. The mark was not allowed and they ended up having to change their design and packaging in order to protect it. We did the work of "sufficiently altering" the other firm's design.

Did Andy Warhol get in trouble for his Soup art? (asking).

Copyright is also "attached" to use as well as form. Think about melody, lyrics of music...
 

Paragon

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Apr 22, 2007
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Copyright laws are designed to prevent the unauthorized reproduction of creative works that damage the value of the creative work. For example, if I were to scan every page of a book, then distribute copies of the scanned images, it would damage the value of the book by taking away purchases. Courts dismiss cases in which there is no damage to the value of the creative work.

A freely available cardmodel suffers no loss in value when it is transferred from one person to another, because it has no monetary value that the transfer would dilute. As long as the person to whom you are selling the complete model has the ability to access the model, or already possesses the model, the only thing you should worry about is charging for the service of construction. Similarly, you could charge for the construction of a non-free model, as long as the company selling the model is paid for each person who recieves a model - that would not damage the value of the work; basically, you or the person buying the complete model from you should pay the seller again for the model.


Well...here in USA at least.
 

Lex

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Dec 1, 2006
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Now that's a lesson learnt for me from an expert... Thanks for the input Bspline! :thumb:

(whisper... yes... I understand... but I still hate copyright laws... you know...)
 

Art Decko

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A freely available cardmodel suffers no loss in value when it is transferred from one person to another, because it has no monetary value that the transfer would dilute.
Hmmm, but copyright law also grants the designer exclusive control over distribution as well. Even if a work was given away free, they could conceivably be deriving value from the distribution.

In the case of a free download card model, the designer may be profiting from site traffic (via advertising), or may be using the free download as a draw to the site to promote sale of other models. Seems to me you would be depriving them of that value if you were to distribute their free model yourself without their permission.
 

nebeltex

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Feb 3, 2004
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Hmmm, but copyright law also grants the designer exclusive control over distribution as well. Even if a work was given away free, they could conceivably be deriving value from the distribution.
...............................................................................................................

In the case of a free download card model, the designer may be profiting from site traffic (via advertising), or may be using the free download as a draw to the site to promote sale of other models. Seems to me you would be depriving them of that value if you were to distribute their free model yourself without their permission.
you are correct Art, just because a model is free does not mean others may distribute it free (or charge for it). sometimes free models are free for a limited time, and then are sold at a price later by the creator. it is difficult to make any real money from a model which was once free. most who are interested in the model already have it as a free down-load. just because something is free of cost does not mean it is free of restrictions inherent to copyright.

really though, i think the BONEHEAD in any case would be someone who thinks there is a lucrative market for built paper models. those who "collect" free models to compile onto CD and sell are not collecting them for their own personal use and are therefore in violation of the license agreement of the copyright.

most of all, i'd like to say "thank you" to our original poster for asking in the first place. it shows a level of consideration all too absent these days....
 

Paragon

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Apr 22, 2007
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Well, I would suggest having the buyer download said cardmodel each time to avoid the (miniscule) potential of copyright violation, that way they're not paying you for the model, just the service of construction. Either that or download it again yourself each time you sell a built model.
 

nebeltex

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some say BONEHEAD might be too strong a term. i think it is mild but i guess it is a matter of perspective....lol! the thing is, many of the best modelers who could make money from selling built models are accomplished enough to scratch-build, making copyright a moot point.
 

Wily

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Sep 7, 2005
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As promised.

As promised, I spoke with our Agency's IP Attorney, laying out the issue of a builder's right to resell copyrighted work.

His opinion is based on verbiage stated in legal precedent to the effect of, "...deprivation of the creator's right to income."

Based on that, he believes copyright law and any subsequent challenges would end up supporting a builder's right to resell a kit...provided the builder buy a new kit each time.

If the kit is free, the copyright holder wouldn't have much of a chance defending the resale of a free kit (even if such a thing is uncouth or tacky).

That being stated, if a builder really wanted to build and resell a freebie kit, the builder would be wise to find the creator and offer a commission.

There ya go.
 

SteveM

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Jan 18, 2004
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[I am not a lawyer and in light of Wily's previous reply maybe what I'm about to say doesn't hold any legal water, but I think it makes sense; even so, it is just my opinion.]

I agree, that it seems like splitting semantic hairs or defining a
distinction with no difference, but to me, there is a very real and
important difference between someone building free models and
offering them for sale as opposed to hiring yourself out as a
builder; even if you end up building exactly the same model!

First, I think it is important to explain my understanding of what a copyright
means and how it relates to publishing. With printed kits, let's
assume that the artist retains the copyright and a publisher purchases
a license to produce the kits. The license is negotiated between the
two with the knowledge that the kits will be sold for a certain price
(or the artist will be paid a certain percentage of the price). So
when the consumer buys the kit, the artist is essentially paid for his
work and then the physical kit becomes the buyer's to do with what he
will, including reselling it.

With online electronic publishing, the "consumer" is no longer simply
a buyer of a printed work. He is assuming the role of a publisher and
so must follow the rules of the license that the artist posts as the
agreement allowing you to download and print his work. He is not
downloading a kit, per se, only permission to print that kit subject to
the terms of the license. Whether or not you have permission to then
sell that kit (either assembled or not) should be stated in the
license. If it isn't stated, then one should assume that it is not
permitted.

So, it is obvious why one cannot sell the unassembled kit if the
license doesn't allow it, but what about assembled kits? When you
offer an object, any object, whether paper, clay, metal, etc. you are
selling the object, not the work that went into it. Yes, your work is
what gives it value, that makes you put a certain price on it, but the
customer is buying the object itself. If one pot took you two hours to
make and an identical one took you only an hour (because you got
faster with practice, say), a customer will not be willing to pay you
more for the first one. When you download a model, assemble it and
offer it for sale, the customer is not going to pay you for the time
it took you to build it regardless of what the model is. The reason he
is buying it is for the model itself as well as the fact that it is
assembled. When you decide to offer that particular model for sale it
is because you know people want that particular model and it is the
original designer that makes it possible for you to offer it for sale.

However, it is entirely different if someone were to bring you an
unassembled kit and offer to pay you to assemble it. Then, it is clear
that you are being paid purely for your time, and skill to assemble
it. You can even advertise that you are available for hire to assemble
kits. The distinction is that it is clear that you are being paid for
your skill alone, regardless of the model.

So even though the end may be the same, you getting paid for
assembling a free kit, the means are what makes all the difference.
 

SteveM

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Jan 18, 2004
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Open-source pact subject to copyrights law: court

http://www.reuters.com/article/technologyNews/idUSBNG34352920080814?sp=true
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. federal appeals court has ruled that the holder of a copyright to a computer programming code made available for free public download can enforce an "open-source" copyright license to control future use of the work.

The ruling on Wednesday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is seen as having important ramifications for the licensing of open-source software. Open-source proponents had argued that individuals who do not adhere to the conditions of an open-source license should be subject to copyright infringement claims.

The appeals court reversed a lower court ruling that had denied a preliminary injunction to plaintiff Robert Jacobsen, a hobbyist who made software used for model trains available through free downloads.

Jacobsen had brought copyright infringement claims against developers of commercial software products, contending they did not follow terms of the software's license. The lower court had ruled that copyright claims did not apply, but that Jacobsen could pursue breach of contract claims.

The distinction is important because the potential remedies under federal copyright law are much stronger than under contract law, said Jacobsen's lawyer, Victoria Hall. She called the appeals court decision "a fantastic ruling."

It "shows that open-source groups can protect their code under copyright laws, and this is a ruling that other open-source groups can use," she said on Thursday.

An attorney representing defendants Matthew Katzer and Katzer's company was not available to comment.

Open-source software makers share the source code of their computer programs, allowing users to help change or improve their software and redistribute it. It is a collaborative approach to software development, unlike the proprietary approach by companies like Microsoft Corp, which generally keep software code secret.

Jacobsen had accused Katzer of copying materials from Jacobsen's website and incorporating them into a software package without following the terms of an open-source agreement called the Artistic License.

Artistic License is used for certain free software packages, like Internet encyclopedia Wikipedia.

The lower court, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, had interpreted the Artistic License to permit a user to "modify the material in any way." But the appeals court said conditions in the Artistic License were vital to enable the copyright holder to retain the ability to benefit from the work of subsequent users.

The appeals court sent the case back to the district court for further proceedings to review Jacobsen's request for a preliminary injunction again.

(Reporting by Martha Graybow)
 

ecleo

New Member
Oct 15, 2007
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Sell Paper Model

I think the true issue in this forum are " It is legal to sell the Paper Model I can built from free Download Paper Model?" YES or No!.
 

WizardMaster

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Oct 29, 2008
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I was searching for web sites for paper airplanes for some board gaming minatures. I found one web site where they were selling the airplane paper models and the web site states that it was not legal to sell their templates but perfectly fine to sell the model once you completed it. Just something I noticed on one web site.
 

atamjeet

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Mar 15, 2007
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I think you have all the rights to sell a completely built model. It takes a lot of time and effort to make a model... and if someone asks to make a model for him/her, it would be purely justified to ask for some money for the time / effort you have put into your model. I myself am keen to sell the models I have built, and I am the one who will decide the cost of a completely biult model regardless the fact from where the model was downloaded. Thats just my own opinion...

On a funny note I must say " An opinion is like an A** Hole... Everyone has one" :)
 
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