Reply to wrong message, sorry...
: : >I've got an interesting question that I have been thinking about for a
: : >little while. I have built a piece from plans I got from a woodworking
: : >mag for myself. I also made the same thing as a wedding gift. The
: : >couple liked it so much that they said they would tell a few people about
: : >them and they may have a few orders for me.
: : >
: : >Now the question. Is it permissible to make money of a plan from a mag?
: : >Do they retain some sort of copyright on anything made from those plans?
: : >I think I have the potential to make a few bucks here but I don't want to
: : >without checking on the ethics.
: : >
: : >Thanks for all replies,
: : >
: : OH, boy! You *do* like to ask complicated questions.
: : The _first_ thing to to is to check what the plans themselves say.
: : Many plans come with an express 'limited license', allowing you to
: : construct a limited number of the object -- might be one only, might
: : be five, might be as many as 25 -- for your own purposes. *IF* there
: : is such a statement, it _does_ govern what you can/cannot do.
: : If there is no such 'license' with the plans, then the 'statutory'
: : provisions apply.
: : This gets "messy".
: : The plans, themselves, _are_ copyrighted. Copying the plans for your own
: : 'personal use' is allowed. Copying the plans for 'someone else' to use
: : is not.
: : Building the thing represented by the plans is considered a 'derivative
: : work'. Which does fall under the purview of copyright law. Absent any
: : other considerations, O.K. for personal use, *not* O.K. to give/sell to
: : others. Immediately after construction, _or_ 'later'. Needs to remain
: : in your possession, or be destroyed. The single exception, if you transfer
: : ownership of the 'original' of the plans from which it was built, the
: : 'derivative work' objects must be destroyed, *OR* be transferred to the
: : same party -- at _no_ cost.
: : HOWEVER, general copyright law protects the 'expression' of a given idea,
: : _not_ the underlying 'ideas' themselves. And, copyright protects _only_
: : the 'unique' creative elements introduced by the author of the particular
: : 'expression'. There is a separate kind of copyright, called a 'design
: : copyright', that plays by different rules. However, unless you're talking
: : about a 'design' that is 'identifiable' as being from some well-known
: : artist -- e.g. a Sam Maloof rocking chair -- it is unlikely that this
: : category of copyright comes into play.
: : Separating the 'ideas' from the 'expression', is one of the *murkiest* areas
: : of copyright law, =particularly= where a 'derivative work' is involved.
: : Design elements that are 'common' to any similar object, are obviously
: : not unique to that particular 'expression' of the concept of whatever
: : kind of object is represented by the plans. The manner/style in which
: : those various elements are _combined_ to make up the whole, on the other
: : hand, _may_ well be a 'unique' creative effort, and thus be protected.
: : Trying to get an 'authoritative' answer as to what are the 'unique'
: : elements in any specific set of plans, is likely to be impossible.
: : A couple of examples, taken from some woodworking magazines within
: : the last year or so: 1) plans for a intarsia teddy bear. 2) plans
: : for decorative boxes.
: : The intarsia teddy bear is almost entirely 'unique' creative effort.
: : The only 'non-unique' component is the 'intarsia' concept itself.
: : The copyright on the teddy-bear object doesn't extend to a, say,
: : intarsia monkey object, nor even to a 'different appearing' teddy bear.
: : In the 2nd case, obviously copyright doesn't apply to boxes as a whole.
: : The only (potentially) 'unique' element in these plans was the 'mitered
: : spline' accent used in joining the box corners. Even then, if a similar
: : appearance was accomplished by a different methodology than espoused in
: : the accompanying article, copyright does not come into consideration.
: : Furthermore, with the 'unique' element being the -method- of constructing
: : the accent, as separate from the 'accent' itself, copyright is side-stepped,
: : because copyright does *not* apply to processes or methods (that is the
: : realm of 'patents').
: : How any/all of this swamp applies to 'whatever it is' that you have made
: : is a question _only_you_ can attempt to answer.
: : As a 'practical matter', it is *highly* unlikely that a copyright owner
: : would act against you for anything less than 'production line' quantities,
: : unless we're talking 'big ticket' item construction. plans for a decorative
: : weather-vane are one thing. Plans for a house, or a boat, or an airplane,
: : are something else again. <grin>
: : The 'ethics' of the situation are a completely different matter from the
: : 'legalities'.
: : Ethically, it's clearly OK to make the thing for your own 'personal use'.
: : Or in _small_ numbers for gifts to others. What constitutes a 'small'
: : number does depend on what the 'thing' is.
: : The situation is different when you start talking about taking money
: : for the things. Obviously, setting up a production-line, and wholesaling
: : them, to say Toys-R-Us or K-Mart, is an entirely different issue than
: : "onesie-twosie" construction for individuals who ask you for one. _IF_
: : there is 'money to be made' in it, then the producer of the plans deserves
: : to share in those profits. Consider buying a set of plans for _each_
: : copy you make. You can then transfer the plans _and_ the 'derivative
: : work' to each buyer. Alternatively, contact the producer of the plan,
: : and see if there is a 'quantity discount' available.