WRONG. What law does "approaching the store" violate? There is _no_
violation of _copyright_ laws, until a "copying" is performed.
A 'copying' of a piece of furniture _may_ involve a breach of copyright
law, or it MAY NOT.
A 'blanket' statement *either*way* is demonstrably false.
WRONG. Copyright protects a specific "expression" of an idea.
If "someone else" comes up with that *exact*same* idea, entirely independently,
and "expresses" it in exactly the same manner, That expression is *NOT*
an infringement on the copyright on the other expression of that idea.
"Proving" that it is an "independently, parallel, development" and not
'derived from' nor 'based on' the prior copyrighted work can be difficult
and messy. However, there _are_ cases in the legal record where this *has*
There are some notable cases arising from the pop music industry -- where
two different artists have _independently_ developed nearly identical tunes,
without any knowledge of, or exposure to, the other's work. It took lawsuits,
going all the way through actual trial, to establish conclusively that the
works _were_ 'independent developments' and that neither one infringed on
Since I have had occasion to research it (U.S., U.K., Netherlands, Denmark,
Switzerland, and a few other countries), I can state with some authority
that you would be surprised at the size of the differences. The majority
of them come under the areas of: "fair use exemptions", ability to
'disclaim' copyright (i.e., to 'place in the public domain'), "moral
rights", "work done for hire", and "lending libraries".
The Berne Convention is applicable *ONLY* to the extent that any particular
country has incorporated it into statute.
The country-to-country differences *are* significant.
Conspiracy, Intent - unless you _don't_ copy. Criminal provisions often
treble any settlement. The fact that you _knew_ you were duplicating
copyright or patented property can _treble_ the settlement.
This is one case where ignorance is safer. If you don't know that you
duplicated patented or copyrighted work at best people can get "normal"
damages. At least in the land of the free home of the brave - or whatever.
I hope you don't consult in this area.
Well prove it -- copy the piece of an irate artist. I did not make
blanket statements by the way. A specific question was asked.
Don't get so excited. :-)
You're sidetracking here. Not the issue under discussion. Intent to copy
Then there wasn't copying was there?
Correct on this much. Are you up to date? I get into this regularly,
write contracts and would not dare claim your level of expertise.
I always suggest that people read the acts and make up their own mine.
*PLUS! I always caution that Copyright violation is in the eye of the
original creator. *
Suggest you be more careful at claiming expertise unless your contracts
stand up in court. Mine do -- and I still won't make the claims you do.
Err on the part of caution.
Let me count the errors:
1) It is *IMPOSSIBLE* for one person to engage in "conspiracy",
2) There is no such crime as 'intent'. To take an extreme example,
approaching a store with "intent" to rob it is *not* -- in and of
itself -- illegal. If you do _commit_ the robbery, there was still
nothing illegal in 'approaching' the store.
"Intent" comes into play with regard to some types of torts and crimes,
where the _action_ must be done with particular _intent_ in mind.
"intent" without "action" is *not* a violation.
3) Unsuccessfully "attempting" a proscribed action may be regarded at law
as similar (or equivalent) to succeeding at it.
4) Copyright statute has provisions that specifically _allow_ copying for
various reasons. *IF* the 'approach' for one of _those_ reasons, there
is not even any 'potential' criminal act involved.
5) post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy. arguing that that which happens
first is a crime _because_ of what happens afterwards.
Note also, that you did acknowledge that just 'approaching' the store is not
illegal in any way.
Completely disregarding the existence of those situations where you *are*
legally permitted to duplicate patented or copyrighted work without the
permission, knowledge, or consent of the rights holder.
The feeling is mutual. :)
Would you agree that simple 'generic' furniture -- be it a simple cutting board,
a milk-crate, stackable boxes, etc. -- _lacks_ the "original, creative"
element required for copyright protection?
Would you agree that if the furniture is *not* eligible for copyright
protection -- whether due to 'lack of originality' or any other reason -- that
copying it is not a breach of copyright laws?
Would you agree that _that_ conflicts with the statement that copying of _any_
piece of furniture *MUST* be a breach of copyright laws?
And, what would _that_ prove?
Copying a work of an artist who does not object, does not prove that it
is never a breach to copy an artists work.
Copying a work of an artist who does object, does not prove that it is
always a breach to copy any artist's work.
BTW, I _have_ had occasion to "reproduce" the work of an irate artist.
Despite their impassioned objections. And there wasn't a d*mn thing they
could do about it. I knew it, and *they* knew it. Said reproduction was
clearly covered under one of the 'fair use' exemptions in statute.
end of story.
You asserted the factual correctness of blanket claims made by others, e.g.,
that copying a piece of furniture *MUST* involve breach of copyright.
Don't spread misinformation. <grin>
Review the original. I'm not sidetracking anything.
Yes, the beginning of the original article postulated intent to copy,
Then 'another answer' was referenced (by the OP) that made an assertation
that was tangential to the query. Which involved _unintentional_ copying.
You then asserted that that tangential response was correct.
How is 'intent to copy' involved in the statement that:
".....if a carpenter copies a piece
*UNINTENTIONALLY*, then he'd break a copy right law. " (emphasis added.)
Or were you simply not paying attention to what was written?
And which you then asserted _was_ "Correct"?
*BINGO* Neither is there any copying, if a carpenter "unintentionally"
produces a work that is happens to be an exact duplicate of something he
has never seen.
Yet you "confirmed" that that _was_ illegal.
You're a lot more comfortable making 'absolute' statements about what
"must" be a breach, and what "is" illegal, than I am. I know where the
swamps, pitfalls, and uncertainties are. And they are many.
Review the record. I've been pointing out that 'things are not that simple'.
I have a d*mn good understanding of where the questions lie, that influence
the determinations. I would *not* try to predict the outcome on any but
the most clear-cut set of detailed facts.
_That_ is very *BAD*ADVICE*(TM)
The acts are only a very *minor* part of the legal corpus that must be
considered. Almost all the 'important stuff', regarding 'where' and 'how'
the lines on copyright are drawn is in the 'case law' on point.
The acts give utterly _no_ assistance as to what, for example, constitutes
'creative' effort sufficient for copyright protection. It took _Feist_
to begin to clarify that issue, in the U.S..
If there is a 'real' issue surrounding a particular question of application,
the only sensible thing to do is t consult a legal *professional* who works
in that area full-time.
*THAT* is also totally wrong. Copyright violation is "in the eye of the
court." <grin> It is, unfortunately terribly difficult to get _any_
"feel" or guidance from the courts for 'general case' situations. They
go out of their way _not_ to be helpful on the matter -- usually stating,
in almost these words, that 'this decision is relevant only to the facts
of this case, and should not be relied on as precedent for any other set
I suggest you review what I have _actually_ claimed. It can be summed up
as: 'No simple answers. Any actual determination depends on details of
The trouble with "read the acts" as advice is that the "acts" are only part
of the story, you also have to read the case law to find out what the
courts think that the "acts" mean.
And before you say "the acts are clear", consider the wide variation in
interpretation of something as simple as "the right of the people to keep
and bear arms shall not be infringed".
Actually, it is in the eye of the court. In the US you can sue anybody for
anything, but bringing suit doesn't mean that you are going to win.
And yet you claim that the plaintiff rather than the court decides what
constitutes copyright violation and lead people down the primrose path of
"reading the acts" and ignoring the case law.
You missed a couple of important points in this
message. Time! The piece one copys may well be
a copy of some long ago expression. Even if it is
not, the "copyright" may well have expired, if it
ever existed. More importantly, the piece being
copied, may not be copyrightable, i.e., it is a
The subject keeps coming up, but I really can't
imagine anyone giving this idea much concern
except for pieces that are considered "art." Even
in that case, an actual copy in wood of someone
else's art, would be very difficult. And of
course there is always the exception of making
something for one for personal use.
I don't think there is any 'one-off for personal use'
exception in the statutes.
As a practical matter it just isn't worth suing someone for
that sort of violation.
I didn't say anything about a "one off." Make
anything you want in any amount for personal
use--copyrighted, patented. We're talking about
normal stuff and not computer programs which are a
confused mess with shrink wrapped licenses, etc.
Still, the chance of violating a copyright in
furniture by looking at and measuring an item is
virtually zero because the designer is long dead,
the expression is obvious and inevitable, or you
wasn't get it exactly like the model anyway.
I suspect that "approaching" is not a crime (yet). however,
if you reproduce the piece exactly without the original creator's
permission, you WOULD be in violation of copyright laws.
Now...having said that, it seems that for many cases,
there is a 'wink and a nod' exemption. Most places are not going
to get bent out of shape over an individual making a copy of
Also, frankly, most of the furniture I see in those places
is really butt-ugly, and I would not want to reproduce it in the first
place. Rather what I would do is get reference materials (books on
furniture design, etc), find something elegant, and build my version
I will say, though, that I HAVE, in the past, used design
details from several different sources, merged together in one unit.
If one piece of commercial design has an interesting design for
a tambour cover, for example, and, another one has an interesting
drawer/pedestal layout, I might well take those elements and
recombine them. Of course, I always end up changing them slightly
anyway, because I NEVER seem to be satisfied with the exact design.
If we were too strict about the whole idea of copyright,
I suspect that innovation would grind to a halt, as much of that
sort of progress DOES come from exactly the above process...little
bits of ideas from other folks being combined in new ways, and added
to by the person doing the combining.
*IF*and *ONLY*IF*, there is sufficient "unique creative effort" in the
piece to merit copyright protection of those 'unique' features.
Absent 'unqiue creative effort' copyright does *not* attach.
The textbook example is the 'white pages' of a telephone directory.
It is just a mechanical compliation of facts. the creative effort
element is lacking. Copyright protection of those 'facts does _not_
exist. *NOT* my opinion -- so said the U.S. Sup. Ct.
There are two things about copyright that are generally applicable
worldwide. Firstly it's automatic - you don't need to "register"
anything for copyright to be applied, although you can choose to relax
this copyright, or to permits its use by others.
Secondly (and most relevantly here) there are several things you can't
copyright. Designs are one of them (titles of works are another). You
can copyright the _description_ of a design, but not the design itself.
So if you find the drawings of a design, photocopy them, then use them
to build your copy then you've breached copyright. But you did it to the
copyright of the _drawing_, not the item, and you did it when you did
the photocopying of the drawing not when you made the copy of the item.
What happens if you built it quickly from the original drawings, then
returned them ? Well you haven't breached the copyright. You may have
committed some other act to obtain them (perhaps breaking and entering),
but it wasn't a breach of copyright.
This leads us to the question of magazine designs and building them for
profit. In general, the magazine (or maybe an author) retains its
copyright on the design drawing and you as a purchaser of the magazine
are granted a _licence_ to use those drawings for some purpose .This
might be for admiration only, it's probably to build one or more copies
for non-profit use and it _might_ be a full license to commercially
produce them - but that would be somewhat unusual. If you breach these
terms, then you're in breach of the _licence_ they granted, but you
still haven't broken the copyright itself (this may vary locally,
depending on how the law is phrased).
It's also possible to renounce the copyright entirely and to place it
into the public domain. This has much the same effect as giving everyone
a licence to dop whatever they want with it, but it's legally distinct.
You also can't "steal" a copyright. Theft has a legal definition, and
copying something is outside it (you need to deprive the original owner
of it, not just reduce their benefit of it). In countries where the
legal system is controlled by large corporations, such as the USA, then
copyright infringement may of course be treated as any act up to and
So how can you protect a design ? In general, this is possible,
difficult, expensive, time-limited and requires some explicit action to
register this design right (i.e. the opposite of automatic copyright).
These rights are not standard between countries (very much so), but
they're usually only for short periods and may or may not be renewable.
It's quite rare for designers other than Alessi, Starck and their ilk to
go as far as registering as design right.
There's also the question of trademarks - these are somewhere inbetween
copyright and design rights. They require some action to register, but
they're relatively cheap and long-lasting. It's notable that Gustav
Stickley was vehement in defending his compass trademark and the
"Craftsman" name, but was very lax over the designs themselves and even
the name "Stickley".
If you want clear information on some useful ways to apply copyright,
with country-specific boilerplate, then a look at the Creative Commons
project http://creativecommons.org will be useful.
Cats have nine lives, which is why they rarely post to Usenet.
Generally true -- and internationally you can (almost) bank on it. US
law look down on "unregistered copyright" -- even though they are treaty
signatories... But some countries -- like Taiwan -- insist that any IP
protection be done there first.
That is really splitting hairs. I wanna think about that one. :-)
And after thinking -- since a bowl, a chair or sculpture _might_ be
viewed as a design - then be really careful on this one. In general I
would say that you are wrong. IMHO
There you also get into moral rights -- which are part and parcel of the
copyright act -- so IMO -- you are likely incorrect on the last two
points. IMO you breached copyrights and moral rights by copying the
item, the drawing or both. Since the author can claim that it somehow
affects his rights of display and sale -- quite easily.
Pretty sure you are wrong here Andy -- better read my other post.
Different issue. You are granted permission. Copyright does not
inherently have any licensing arrangement. Yess you could claim that the
permission is a "license" -- but really...?
Don't think you should be giving copyright advice without thoroughly
reviewing the Berne Convention... :-)
Do you mean license as in "permission" as a synonym?
See the criminal copyright violation permissions in the conventions and
the Canada Code for example...
Sorry -- wrong again. Many other countries recognize criminal theft of
copyrighted material and designs. And yes the EU supports M$ in it's
holy wars. AN in North America the rights of European vendors are respected.
Patent. Copyright Registered copyright. They all work in various
fashions. Copyright and secrecy are IMO best for software. Moral rights
act to protect "perversion" of an artists' copyright.
Not really -- different issue. A Trademark is a symbol/word set that
defines a the origin of an item via a set of characteristics belonging
to an entity might be the simplest way to look at it. It is like a
defined "business shingle" that can be "hung out" in many media. Could
you copyright a trademark? Why not -- silly really -- but you can't
trademark a copyright or a patent. A trademark is used to define the
"origin" of goods -- not to define the goods. Perhaps you could say it
is to to tout quality, or the lack thereof -- but not necessarily the
exact goods. Copyrights and Patents define the "goods".
Better still look at my post and read the darned acts via the links.
They are actually quite clear and are not an "interpretation" of what
someone thought the act might mean.
Andy -- I've written agreements that stood up in courts and that were
used internationally. I accept that I could be wrong or out of dates on
some points -- but you are definitely out of whack on enough issues that
you should be careful about giving advice without a proviso as to the
currency of the information you give out. I believe that I would have
accepted your info 20 years ago -- I think you may be out of date by
that much at least.
U.S. policy changed utterly with the re-write of Title 17 US code to bring
it into compliance with Berne Convention policies.
The _only_ thing that copyright registration 'buys you' these days, is the
ability to sue for "statutory damages" instead of only "actual" ones.
*ALL*OTHER* protections accrue *regardless* of whether the copyright is
registered or not. Copyright registration filings have fallen precipitously
since the "Berne Convention" changes were introduced.
And registration is allowed at any time up to 6 months _after_ initial
Yes -- it is closer... However I have done digging in the past and
recent research shows that any suits in the US might be looked on more
favourably if you register. Don't think any claim I made was stronger
The USA looks after corporate America, I am not sure that US courts
would resolve International disputes in an even handed fashion. So
registration could be safer for foreigners -- even if not required.
As I have said repeatedly -- depends on the depth of the pockets of the
parties -- right?
US law vs Berne. Is US law universal? Were you talking about the USA
only or generally? :-)
I admitted I could be wrong on some issues.
Again -- I suggest that you not give advice. You're not cautious enough.
Seeing as I read the treaty before replying... then I would be more
careful. Readers of the various treaties and the analyses of them are
cautioned that the terms can be interpreted very broadly.
That is why I am so cautious about copying work. And in this case the
guys were talking about a _specific_ design -- and expression -- and
they were aware that it was being produced commercially.
As I said before -- they can do what they want. Waste of time -- easier
to do a "similar" design -- with their own techniques -- problem solved.
Unless they have deep pockets for the litigation-happy USofA.
An overly broad answer. Given the right set of specific circumstances it
_could_well_ involve a violation of copyright statutes.
Copyright law is _very_ 'fact specific' to particular situations.
Virtually *any* statement that says something always "is" or "is not"
a particular way is going to be in error, including _this_ statement. :)
WRONG. See: Title XVII, chapter 13, U.S. Code. (17 USC 1301 et. seq.)
available online at: <http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/
For U.S. statutes expressly providing for copyright protection of designs.
The photocopying of the drawings is a copyright violation.
*BUILDING* the object from the drawings is a 'derivative work'.
Which may, or may not, be a violation in and of itself.
(Building from infringing plans *is* a violation. an 'aggravating' violation,
that increases the severity of penalties for the infringement of copying
the plans, in point of legal fact.)
"Derivative work" still applies..
In the U.S. it *is* copyright infringement, in legal fact. You have
exceeded the permissions granted by the copyright owner.
They *do* sue for 'copyright infringement', not "breach of contract".
*THAT* depends on jurisdiction. In a number of (even well-developed)
countries, "Public domain" is _not_ legally recognized. In those
countries you _cannot_ renounce copyright -- all you can do is aggressively
'fail to enforce' it. :)
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